England’s World Cup adventure came to a heart-breaking close after a semi-final defeat by Croatia dashed their hopes in Russia.
Gareth Southgate’s men will return after Saturday’s third-place play-off with their heads held high after exceeding expectations and already plotting the way forward.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at where they could improve.
Tight games are decided by the finest of margins and the best teams see out matches when they are up against it. Southgate’s side saw their slender lead evaporate in injury-time against Colombia in the last 16 – they eventually went through on penalties – and ultimately could not defend a single-goal advantage against the Croatians in the face of a second-half onslaught after edging to within 22 minutes of the final.
Pace of play
The threat England have posed from set-pieces has been formidable throughout the tournament, but it is a concern that most of their goals have arrived from that source, and that they were over-reliant on skipper Harry Kane. Raheem Sterling, Lingard and even Golden Boot contender Kane against Croatia have been found wanting in front of goal at times and with chances at a premium at the highest level, that will need to improve if they want to challenge for honours.