Disquieting England competence and insouciant genius from France – The Guardian

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Good moaning. We were just p!ssing boy when we realised we’d gone almost 30 seconds without enjoying a “from the England camp” update. By way of penance, we have drenched ourselves in stale beer, eaten a packet of Lambert & Butler and – most painfully of all – pretended to like football, in order to recreate that special Boxpark atmosphere in the comfort of our own boxroom. That’ll show those French, what with their good food, fine wine, suave behaviour, easy adult calisthenics, and refusal to remain supine when persecuted by a cruel and corrupt government.
Excuse us, we jest. Because while the aforementioned “French” still have plenty to learn when it comes to puddings – fight us! – this latest encounter feels different to the usual ’Allo! ’Allo! vacuity because this England team feels different. The devastating, disquieting competence with which they dismissed a Senegal team helpfully shorn of its best players is one thing. The real thing, though, is a spirit the Daily has never before seen in the national side, no longer split along club lines nor defined by exhibition toxic masculinity, but a lesson in what Justin Langer, the hilarious Australian comic, termed “elite mateship”.
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The Daily is old, so must confess to missing the experience of Real Football Men banging on about what they were going to do, prior to their inevitable collapse – under pressure and into paroxysms of tears – live on television. But also, the Daily is moved to the point of sweaty eyeballs by a young, multicultural and cohesive bunch of mates loving each other’s company and celebrating each other’s success while absolutely having it – in the process, teaching a jaded, divided, ailing country the simple values of kindness, honesty and integrity (if only it had the collective capacity for learning).
So England roll on to meet the aforementioned “French”, who are bidding to become the first country to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Inspired by Didier Deschamps’ insouciant, incomparable, prophetic genius in being born in the same country as Kylian Mbappé, they have been perhaps the most impressive side in the competition, with Olivier Giroud also to the fore. We’re not one to namedrop, principally because we never go anywhere or meet anyone, but we did once come across France’s all-time leading scorer in a trendy nightspot convenience. “Hey, you’re … you’re …” ventured the attendant attendant; “Olivier Giroud?” wondered Olivier Giroud. “You can tell it’s him,” we advised as the attendant pondered, “because he’s admiring himself in the mirror … in fairness, with good reason.” Oh how they laughed – we think.
Which leaves us with just six days of hype to endure before the sides meet on Saturday evening in what promises to be an altercation for the ages. Which is to say this tournament is poised to do what the organisers hoped it would do: narcotise us to its dark side with the incomparable magic of football. Which is why this England squad is so special: they ensure we can’t forget that the beauty of the beautiful game extends way beyond the game.
Join Daniel Harris from 3pm GMT for MBM coverage of Japan 1-2 Croatia, before Scott Murray is on hand for Brazil 2-0 South Korea at 7pm.
“Propagating the Fifa line that athletes shouldn’t stand up for human rights and that a desire for social justice inhibits athletic performance. Human rights aren’t politics, Arsène [Wenger] and values shouldn’t be for sale” – former Socceroos midfielder Craig Foster gets stuck into the flamin’ ex-Arsenal boss for parroting Fifa’s lamentable “should stick to football” line in his paid role on the technical advisory board at the HRWC. Dread to think what this fan thinks of him now.

Re: Friday’s Football Daily. ‘Before all that, there’s the small matter of Ghana v Uruguay to decide who joins Portugal in the last 16. There’s a small chance that South Korea could finish above them both.’ Can you please write in Monday’s mail-out that there is a small chance that David Carr will win the lottery?” – David Carr (and others).

I’m not watching the HRWC, but even I have picked up that Uruguay got a bit Uruguay again. Uruguay is a fascinating country. Confounding all the Anglo-European-held stereotypes, it’s a country more democratic than the UK, certainly more democratic than the ‘flawed democracy’ of the USA! USA!! USA!!!, and well, look at Qatar, since we are there. The army has basically done nothing except work for the UN peacekeeping force for 30-odd years. They invented the birth control pill and were the first to think of legalising weed. The sage Jorge Luis Borges, a genius born to a Uruguayan mother, said: ‘When Argentinians die they turn into angels and go and live in Uruguay.’ However, what Borges said about what inevitably seems to happen when you lob a football into the eyeline of a Uruguayan is sadly unrecorded” – Jon Millard.
Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Jon Millard.
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