Every four years, a whole new generation of fans gets sucked into the emotional vortex of supporting the England national football team.
It’s been quite a while since any of us had a huge amount to celebrate, but in just a few short weeks we’ll have another chance to convince ourselves that anything is possible – and we’ll be right, anything is possible!
The tricky part is that many, many things are deeply improbable.
If you’re a new visitor to the vale of tears we call “being an England fan”, here’s a short guide to what you can hope for. If you haven’t worked up much enthusiasm yet, don’t worry – it’ll come. Just pick the games you want to see at Coral’s site, which carries all the football betting related news you’ll need as well.
England’s campaign kicks off on 14th June at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, where they take on the mighty Italy.
The vast size of Brazil means that some of the stadiums are thousands of miles apart, and Manaus is the most northerly of the lot. Nestled in the Amazon Basin, it’s likely to be a hot, sweaty venue, and a combination of climate and nerves may prove to be a real problem.
Five days later the action moves to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, some 1660 miles to the south-east. England will take on Uruguay, who will have something approaching a home advantage.
However, the Uruguayans will have travelled more or less the same distance after playing Costa Rica in Fortaleza.
If England have managed to get a point from the Italy game, this is the moment at which the nation will start to believe. In those circumstances, a win against Uruguay will produce some rather optimistic headlines at home, for which you should prepare yourself.
England’s final group game is against Central American minnows Costa Rica, on 24th June.
While any nation that aspires to do well at a World Cup should be sweeping Costa Rica aside, they’re a slightly more difficult proposition than they sound.
They qualified second in their group behind the USA, having lost only 2 of 10 games. They beat and drew with Mexico, as well as beating the US 3-1 in San Jose. The game takes place in Belo Horizonte, much closer to Sao Paulo than Manaus.
It would be foolhardy to start looking at the possibilities should England qualify from the group stages, but if the team can get 4 points from the first 3 games, there is no doubt that the fans at home (as well as the ones who’ve travelled to Brazil) will be starting to believe.
That’s where it usually gets exciting – and heartbreaking…