England defeats at World Cups do not normally offer as much consolation as the one that Roy Hodgson's men suffered at the hands of Italy in Manaus on Saturday night. In going down 2-1, the team showed enough youthful vigour in attack to suggest that their campaign is far from over, and that they have every chance of putting things right in their next match, against Uruguay on Thursday.
The attitude shown by England, and indeed by their historically defence-minded opponents, was typical of the opening stages of the tournament, in which goals have come aplenty and we have already witnessed one resplendent performance in the Netherlands' 5-1 defeat of reigning champions Spain.
It is turning into a better World Cup overall than almost anyone had a right to expect, which is doubly welcome when set against the depressing background of rows and recrimination over the future of Sepp Blatter at the head of Fifa, over whether Qatar fixed the World Cup for 2022, and whether the exorbitant cost to Brazil of staging this year's event would cause the angry inhabitants of Rio's favelas to explode.
None of those issues has disappeared, nor should they. Whether Manaus ever needed a stadium is one of many questions Brazilians are still asking. But at least none of the matches has taken place so far with police battling rioters in the streets. And while the stadiums have not always been full, they have at least been ready, and the quality of the playing surfaces has ensured that teams can fully express themselves. Which they are doing with elan.
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