Marcus Rashford has noted how the atmosphere in the England camp is far more relaxed than what he experienced in France two years ago.
England only managed one win in four games at the European Championships – a last minute victory over Wales – and lost to Iceland in the last 16 in miserable fashion.
They have started this major tournament in slightly smoother fashion, producing a decent performance against Tunisia and winning their opening game at the finals for just the third time ever.
Speaking after the game, Rashford noted how the squad’s base in Repino, near Saint Petersburg, was a much calmer place this time around.
“The mood around the camp is a lot calmer from what I can remember of the last tournament but I think that’s to be expected,” he said.
“We were all fairly new to each other and we’ve managed to build relationships. The team really is a team now.
“That puts us in good stead for this tournament and future tournaments.”
The first game is always the hardest, especially for a side with scant tournament experience. Breaking the ice, so to speak, is so important and something England crucially haven’t done too often: drawing with the United States in 2010, losing to Italy four years ago.
Gareth Southgate’s men will now feel like they have their feet under the table. They are on the board and can secure a place in the knockouts against Panama. That notion alone can serve as an enormous psychological boost. Playing catchup at the World Cup never ends well for England. And members of the squad like Rashford will be no doubt determined to further establish themselves at these finals on Sunday.