England is a nation unified and deliriously divided.
The world’s best tennis players typically own center stage during these two weeks of Wimbledon. But this year, they have stepped to the edge of the spotlight for the country’s surprising soccer team, which has advanced to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990.
A spot in Sunday’s final is up for grabs Wednesday when England plays Croatia in a showdown that has this nation transfixed. As a result, Wimbledon officials are forced to relax their rigid rules of Centre Court that hold that spectators must switch off their phones and devices during play. When England is playing a World Cup game, tennis fans in those prime seats will be allowed to follow on their phones and tablets as long as they don’t disturb the people around them.
When the spotlight has shone on France in this World Cup, it has illuminated Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba, the team’s attackers. And that made the team’s defenders as anonymous as the French Foreign Legion.
Invisible to the crowds flocking to World Cup venues all over Russia are legions of migrant workers from Central Asia, who built the stadiums and keep them running, staff concession stands, and clean up after fans who revel through city streets.
The first time Antoine Griezmann met Thierry Henry he was 7. Henry had just helped France to its only World Cup title and Griezmann, who could barely reach the player’s waist on tippy-toes, wanted an autograph.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has never coached a game at the international level, yet his influence was considered partly responsible for the success of the last two World Cup champions and could play a role in next Sunday’s final was well.