By Max Grieve
Imagine this for a moment. In little over a month’s time, England, having finished as runners-up in their group at the European Championships, are playing Spain for a place in the semi-finals. Roy Hodgson’s men are literally filling the face of the goal; Gerrard instructing a human-tetris formation between the posts and the bar — and it’s working. Spain, like Barcelona and Bayern Munich before them this season, are struggling to take advantage of their overwhelming dominance. Somewhere else, Gary Neville gurgles in delight. The whistle comes; then sounds again as the two sides begin extra time. There are no goals.
Germany await the victors in Donetsk, and with no way of separating the teams, a 14-year-old boy is called onto the field, his eyes blindfolded, and asked to draw lots. The stadium is plunged into a deafening silence. After a moment, the boy holds Spain’s name above his head, and the artists in London begin photoshopping Hodgson’s face into a root vegetable for the next day’s front page. England are out; Spain are through. And they were so close.