England advanced to the World Cup semifinals with a dominating performance over Sweden, 2-0. Both goals — Harry Maguire in the 30th minute and Dele Alli in the 58th — came via header. The soccer-rich nation is seeking its first World Cup crown since 1966 and this is the first time advancing to the final four since 1990.
This time it feels different. After so many heartaches and routine disappointment, things are going well. Some English supporters are even allowing themselves to let go of past baggage and live in the moment.
But is this just fools’ gold? A semifinals appearance is nothing to scoff at, but the road to get this far has been paved with relatively easy opposition. If Russia continues its improbable run, a finals berth is well within reach, though France or Belgium will loom.
The other foot may eventually drop. But unlike past years, a nation isn’t holding its breath waiting for that inevitability.
Sixteen players on the roster weren’t even born the last time England was in this position. Perhaps the best thing is not knowing any better. Time will tell.