Shearer says: “It’s brilliant being an England fan right now.”
Three Lions legend gives his take from Russia
I thought England put in their best performance of the tournament so far against Sweden.
They really grew into the game. The first 15 minutes or so were a bit nervy and edgy, which is totally understandable for an inexperienced side, but then after that, they looked in control.
Whether it was because it never really matched the tension of the Colombia game or whether it was just our performance, but I was never really nervous. I never felt we looked in any danger, we looked really comfortable.
Yes Jordan Pickford had to make two or three very good saves, but once we got the first goal, there was never any of the stress that came with watching the Colombia game.
We’re seeing real progress
I said before the tournament that I wanted to see progression from this young squad, to embrace it, enjoy it, not be overwhelmed by the pressure.
That’s exactly what we’ve got from Jordan Pickford, he’s growing in stature with every game and his confidence will be increasing all the time. For him, and other players, like Kieran Trippier and Harry Maguire, this could be a life changing experience.
Raheem Sterling is the subject of much debate, but for me it’s very simple, he gives England far more positives than negatives.
His pace, his running in behind defences, is without doubt putting fear into our opponents, and while his finishing has been off target so far, his positive contributions far outweigh the negatives and I would definitely stick with him.
Next up is Croatia, and if everyone is fit, I’m sure we’ll see the same starting eleven for England. It’s a settled line up, they’ve got momentum, they’re in the groove.
Everything seems to be falling into place. Losing to Belgium was not a disaster, it gave us this decent route through the draw, albeit we still had to beat a Sweden side that qualified ahead of Holland and put out Italy in the play-offs to get here, that finished top of a group containing Germany.
England made them look poor, that tells you what a strong performance it was.
Whether or not Gareth does stick with the same eleven or make changes, it would be hard to question him as everything he’s done so far has worked out!
I thought he might have made a change for the Sweden game, but when he went with that line up, I think we can assume he’ll stick with it again.
There’s no doubt this is the best team England have faced so far, it’s their biggest test, and it should be, it’s the last four of a World Cup, but they come into it off the back of their best performance, which gives plenty of encouragement.
Will Croatia be tired?
Luka Modric has been the best midfielder in the tournament, indeed he’s been one of the best around for a while now.
But what could be in our favour is that he, and plenty of his team-mates, looked knackered after the extra time against Russia, their second game in a row to go to penalties, and they’ve also got a few injury concerns.
That said, they still have plenty of quality, we know that, but after two tough games, I really do fancy England to get to the final. They’re on a roll, and right now we’d be dangerous against any opposition.
I also think the players now believe something special can happen, and that’s a huge plus. It is brilliant being an England fan right now, if you can’t enjoy this, then there must be something wrong, because it’s a great time to follow the team.
Even here in Moscow we know that the country is loving it back home, as we are here, and there was a tremendous atmosphere out here after the Sweden win, we even got Jurgen Klinsmann singing Three Lions!
Enjoy the moment!
I’ve been as disappointed as any England fan in the past, as recently as Iceland two years ago we were a bit of a laughing stock, so moments like these have to be enjoyed, celebrated.
The team has already exceeded all our expectations, let’s be honest not many people expected us to get to a semi-final.
The manager and the players will be thinking they may never get such a good chance to get to a World Cup final again, it’s unusual for a squad to get this far without any serious injury concerns, no suspensions, a draw that’s worked out well for them.
Yes this is a young squad, but this may just be the best opportunity England get in a World Cup for a long, long time, everything seems to be falling into place.