FOR the first time since 1958, England are going home after their final group game today at the World Cup in Brazil.
Having lost against Italy and Uruguay, it is impossible to qualify for the second round and fans will have an odd damp squib feeling ahead of the 5pm kick-off.
Although the team hasn’t tasted success since 1966, it is rare for the Three Lions to be playing a meaningless World Cup game when they play Costa Rica.
Poole’s Chris Wiseman, who has been giving his take on the team’s campaign for the Echo, said: “Well, what can I say?
“Two games, two losses can only leave myself and many England fans disappointed to say the least.
“The game against Uruguay was hard to watch knowing what the outcome could be, but I never thought that the score at the final whistle would be a 2-1 win to the Uruguayans.
“Rooney was on form – so playing in his preferred position was the right way to go – and he could have scored more on a different day.
“But, as I have mentioned before in previous comments, our defence was the weak link of the team.
“I can only imagine the conversations between Liverpool fans as England have many Liverpool players in the squad, that it just had to be a Liverpool player that inevitably put us out of this World Cup.
“Moving swiftly on to the Costa Rica game and our final match of this campaign, I’m hoping to see us go out with some pride and give the fans a performance they deserve.
“I would like to see Frank Lampard as captain for what probably is his final international game, surrounded by the new up and coming young talented players. Hopefully we’ll see a couple of goals before their journey home.
“On a plus note, I’ve have noticed many shops and stores reducing their England merchandise, so I’m off to grab some bargains ready for Euro 2016 in France!”
Alan Young, who has family links in Costa Rica, has been following the team in Brazil.
He said: “Two world champions down, one to go and a new champion to be crowned?
“We Ticos are revelling in our success and are believing anything is possible. A win over England, a team Costa Ricans genuinely admire, would be the feather in our cap and I expect us to gun for it in what should be an entertaining encounter as England play for pride.
“Despite the will to win, Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz will likely start on the bench along with one or two others in order to save some gas for the knockout stages.
“The ones to look out for taking their places are Michael Barrantes and Randall ‘Chiqui’ Brenes.
“The former has produced some stunning goals from long range in his career as a midfielder, while Brenes is renowned for his passionate, hard working performances as a forward. Costa Rica to edge it 3-2 to become the first team ever to defeat three former World Champions in one World Cup!”
Meanwhile, you couldn’t blame many football fans for focusing their attentions on the Italy v Uruguay match, upon which the outcome of Group D depends.
Also kicking off at 5pm, one of the two teams involved will make the second round.
Italy have the edge on goal difference, so a draw will see them through.
Second place is the most likely outcome for these two sides, although if England beat Costa Rica and the winner of the Italy v Uruguay scores a few goals, that team could top the group.
Joseph Flachi, who runs Valentino’s restaurant in Bournemouth, is cheering on Italy.
He said: “I think Italy will win 1-0 against Uruguay and I think Ciro (Immobile) will get the goal. Our last game was not good (against Costa Rica). God knows what went wrong. I think Balotelli is too temperamental, too spoilt. He is like a child.
“I am sorry for England too because I wanted them to do well.
“But we are still in the competition, still alive and I think we will get better and better. I think we can still go far.”
At 9pm Group C concludes, with Greece taking on the Ivory Coast and Japan playing Columbia.
Columbia have qualified, by virtue of winning their first two games, and have a handy goal difference of plus-four.
They’ll most likely top the group on goal difference at least, but any of the other three teams can still qualify in what should be an exciting conclusion.
Giannis Cottrell, a Bournemouth University student following his native Greece, said: “We hoped for a victory but a draw 0-0 is still a positive outcome.
“Greece finally started playing as it did back in 2004 when the team won the Euro cup. After Katsouranis was sent out and the team was left with 10 players, it went full defence which the Japanese couldn’t get through despite some good chances to score.
“Although Fernando Santos is receiving a lot of criticism for his coaching, I think that the team’s spirit is getting higher and that they played with good collaboration between them.
“Given the result with Japan, speculations for the next match with Ivory Coast are positive. Greece needs this win desperately.
“However, Didier Drogba is a dangerous opponent, known for his effectiveness, while Yaya Toure used to play for Olympiakos FC and had shown his worth, some years back.
“I think the Greek team has the determination to win now. They know they must not lose and that they must retain that collaborative spirit at all times in order to score. Defence must be strong with swift attacks that will score a goal.
“Dimitris Salpigidis and Kostas Mitroglou should be up for that task.”