5 Things for England Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Loss vs. Italy
The predictions that England would lose their opening game of the World Cup were right, but the manner in which Roy Hodgson's side fell to the Italians has left many feeling as positive as if they had won.
England's 2-1 defeat in Manaus on Saturday was played out among a backdrop of subplots, with the weather and the pitch hot topics for conversation.
Since the final whistle, the role of Wayne Rooney in Hodgson's starting XI that remains the talking point, but also the potential of the young team the Three Lions manager is assembling.
Far from being cautious and nervy, England's youngsters took the game to Italy, and had things fell more in their favour, they may well have come away with the three points needed to take control of Group D.
It was a positive evening for England. Here are five things supporters of the Three Lions can look forward to.
We've seen it enough throughout the history of football to know that not many things can be taken for granted, which is why England's matchup with Uruguay on Thursday is far from being a foregone conclusion.
That said, if England perform to a similar level than they did against Italy, they will be confident of all but knocking Uruguay out of the World Cup.
The Uruguayans were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Group D minnows Costa Rica on Saturday—the biggest shock of the World Cup so far.
It wasn't a fluke, either.
Costa Rica outplayed their opponents with a thrilling display, hitting Uruguay on the break and punishing their poor defence.
Their tactics weren't too dissimilar to what we saw Roy Hodgson deploy against Italy, so if it's more of the same from England, they will have every chance of piling more misery on Luis Suarez et al.
No More Talk About the Weather and Pitches
There's a World Cup on, so surely there are more interesting and better things to be discussing than the humidity and pitches.
In the build-up to England's clash with Italy in Manaus, those two subjects appeared top of the agenda. Eventually, when the action kicked off, it all proved much ado about nothing, adding to the belief that it was all nonsense in the first place.
Thankfully, with England's remaining group games now taking place in the relatively cooler Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte against Uruguay and Costa Rica respectively, we can concentrate on the thing that matters most: football.
England's man of the match against Italy on Saturday was undoubtedly Raheem Sterling.
The diminutive midfielder was at the heart of everything the Three Lions created going forward and gave Italy's rearguard a night they won't be forgetting for a while.
There had been question marks surrounding his selection and whether Roy Hodgson should have started Adam Lallana instead.
On the back of this showing, those doubts are no longer valid.
Sterling is going to be a star of this World Cup. For England's sake, let's hope he doesn't have just two more games left to make an even better impression.
England came of age in the Manaus on Saturday, breaking free of their shackles to play like the team many fans had hoped they would.
The reason was simple: They now have the players to attack and cause teams problems.
With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana, this new-look England side is exciting and has the pace and flair to cause problems for their opponents.
It was a defeat against Italy, yes, but their performance would have done enough to create the belief they can go out and attack teams in the World Cup and come away with victories.
We can expect more of the same in Brazil and beyond from this group of players.
The Knockout Stages of the World Cup
We're being bold here and predicting England will progress from Group D to reach the last 16 of the World Cup.
They may have lost their opening fixture against a talented Italy side, but let's not get too down beat about their prospects.
England are an exciting team who look fresh and hungry to make an impression in Brazil, and with two more games to come in Group D, they have more than enough talent throughout the squad to avoid boarding an early plane home.
With the belief and ambition that seems to be flowing in the England camp right now, they are more than capable of advancing at the expense of Uruguay and Costa Rica.