It was lovely to have DeAnna and Rocco in Moscow to witness England progress to the semi-finals and experience the euphoria of the World Cup. They made it onto the set to see where I work and met all of my colleagues. Rocco was getting so much attention and it was hard to drag him away from the little football pitch on set behind our studio desk.
The expectations on the young England team going into the tournament were skeptical. And now they have done it! Wow. Wow. Wow. We are here at the semi-final stage where England are up against Croatia! I’m told, back home in England, the country is at fever pitch with excitement.
The last group game v Belgium was a little flat as there were so many changes so I couldn’t tell if we were progressing. To beat Colombia in the round of 16, in the manner that we did and finally lift the curse of penalties was a nail biting, exciting experience. A dream come true. I had tears in my eyes. The dirty tactics of Colombia were appalling, I was proud of the way the England team didn’t react, kept their focus and let the referee manage the game. The strength and character of the team was admirable.
In the build up to the quarter-final game v Sweden, I felt really confident inside because of what I had witnessed so far with England. Sweden were going to be tough but we controlled the game very well. England had a few good chances with Raheem Sterling in the first half. However, he is not converting his chances. On the flip side, Raheem's pace and clever runs do open space for Lingard and Alli to get on the ball in the final third so this is why Southgate is keeping faith in him. Our defence has been consistent and impressive which we need to continue into the next game(s).
We should feel extremely confident going into the Croatia game but that doesn’t dismiss that it isn’t going to be another difficult game. We need to be cognisant that: Croatia will have the ball on the floor more than Sweden did; and we will have to control the midfield and keep Modric and Rakitic quiet. England set pieces will be crucial in this game more than ever - Croatia will need to defend them well with great concentration.
Covering both semi-finals for FoxSports is very exciting. The energy on set so far has been explosive. I never got chance to play in a semi-final for England at a World Cup, so to be working at the men’s World Cup live, in the studio, is an honour. I will remain confident that England will progress to the final and the country will go mad. I was always taught, "play the game not the occasion” and I am sure Gareth Southgate has primed his players to do the same to reach the final. Yes, the final, I said it. It’s coming home. Come on England.