If football’s coming home then England’s loss to Belgium was just a brief stop at the service station to pick up some cans and a Ginsters-endorsed ‘meat’ snack.
By finishing second in Group G England have avoided a potentially awkward round of 16 fixture with Japan followed by a probable quarter-final against Brazil.
The genius of Gareth Southgate knows no bounds.
As the dust settled on England’s loss to Belgium’s B team the reaction from fans was generally positive.
The fact we were even debating whether to lose or win a game shows how far we’ve come since finishing bottom of Group D four years ago.
Back in 2014 the only bright note was outplaying Costa Rica’s fearsome midfield in an electric 0-0 draw.
But what was the Colombian reaction to England’s loss? Was there mass panic as the reality of being part of football’s homecoming set in?
Richard Emblin, director of Colombia’s largest English-language newspaper The City Paper, explained: ” England are a technically polished team but haven’t shown greatness in Russia aside from Harry Kane.
“England were always seen as potential rivals, more so than Belgium. England and Colombia are two great nations that are historically linked throughout centuries.
“Colombia are a fast and agile team, so we predict this could be a historic knockout. In order to do that many feel that James Rodriguez has to be in the game.”
Ahh, James. The star of the 2014 World Cup was subbed off after 30 minutes of Colombia’s 1-0 win against Senegal with an injury.
The latest prognosis isn’t as desperate as initially feared so James will likely still tick off a life goal by pitting his wits against Jordan Henderson, however it’s hardly ideal preparation.
On Colombia’s main man, Emblin said: “We are worried about James’ morale, and the fact he doesn’t seem to be ‘in the game’ is disconcerting.
“Much to our surprise Yerry Mina has pulled a lot of the weight for La Seleccion.”
But can Yerry do it on a balmy summer evening in Moscow?
Colombia fan Pedro Rey, from Medellin, added: “From what I’ve heard, people here think England have more of a reputation.
“We were equally scared of both but a little bit more scared of England!”
Spot on, Pedro. Spot on. We’d be similarly terrified at the prospect of trying to find a way around the circumference of Harry Maguire’s head.
If England had won the group, which let’s remember we didn’t want to do, Gareth Southgate would be pitting his wits against Japan.
Japan have never been further than the round of 16 at a World Cup.
In the five World Cups the サムライ・ブルー have been to they have failed to get out of the group on three occasions and fallen at the round of 16 stage in the other two.
Hardly form to strike fear into a World Cup winning nation (1966 wasn’t that long ago, right?).
But, given the way this World Cup is panning out *cough Spain cough*, we’ll see them in the final.