London (AFP) – “Time for Lift Off! Moscow Awaits”.
England’s Jesse Lingard captured the mood of a nation barely able to contain its excitement as the World Cup semi-final against Croatia looms.
An estimated 32 million people across Britain are expected to tune in at 1800 GMT on Wednesday as Gareth Southgate’s team take the next step in their attempt to repeat the success of 1966.
Prince William, the president of the Football Association, issued a rallying cry as the country prepared to grind to a halt.
“The whole country is right behind you tonight. Come on England – it’s coming home!”
British Prime Minister Theresa May also sent the team a good luck message.
Even if England reach Sunday’s final, neither William nor Prime Minister May will not attend the match because of Britain’s diplomatic boycott of the tournament over a nerve agent attack in England this year.
Such is the feverish atmosphere that the system crashed when London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced 30,000 free tickets would be made available to watch the game in Hyde Park via a ballot.
Actor Hugh Grant and many others heeded the Sun newspaper’s call to wear a waistcoat on #WaistcoatWednesday — following the lead of Southgate.
British Airways handed out waistcoats to passengers travelling to Moscow.
“Perhaps people feel they (waistcoats) also reflect in some way this young likeable England side: They’re bold, innovative, endearing — a hark back to a more genteel, civilised era,” said the Daily Mail.
“The inspiring diversity of Gareth Southgate’s youthful team reflects the hopes of a nation tired of political battles and the grind of an economy spluttering badly,” said the Daily Mirror.
– Timberlake screening –
Concerts and shows have been cancelled or altered as performers bow to the inevitable.
American pop sensation Justin Timberlake bowed to the inevitable and made arrangements to screen the match before his show in London.
“I heard there’s a big game on tomorrow before our show,” Timberlake wrote on Twitter.
“So I had a little chat with @TheO2.”
“For the first time ever… we’re going to play this England-Croatia match up on my big screens,” he said.
Pub landlords are licking their lips ahead of the match, with an estimated 10 million extra pints predicted to be sold.
Police have warned fans to behave, listing more than 300 incidents of “significant disorder” that occurred after Saturday’s victory over Sweden.
However, Mark Roberts, head of football policing for The National Police Chiefs’ Council, is relieved Croatia is not a car producer.
He said when England lost to Germany on penalties in the Euro ’96 semi-finals, fans damaged Volkswagen and Mercedes cars.
Travellers will hope Border Control employees are more attentive than they were during the last-16 match against Colombia.
“The worst queuing occurred during the World Cup game when the number of desks manned dropped from typically 22 to 11 and the queue time increased to three hours,” John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, wrote in a letter to Border Force.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Summer transfer market shakes up power dynamic among elite
- Where to find Vélez Sársfield vs. River Plate on US TV
- Lukaku ‘very happy’ as he arrives in Milan ahead of Inter return
- Iniesta’s Vissel fire manager after less than three months
- UEFA do not lack ambition for women’s Euro, says Kessler
- Are World Cup tickets available for Qatar 2022?
- Minamino leaves Liverpool for Ligue 1 club Monaco
- Netherlands looks to snap World Cup dud at Qatar 2022
- Lukaku expected in Milan ‘this evening’ ahead of Inter return: CEO
- French minister apologises for Champions League chaos