Fifty-two years is a long period, but 90 minutes is smooth good time to apply skills and back strengths. To cut the long story short, after five decades, England looks promising in the World Cup race on Russian soil. Led ably by Harry Kane, Three Lions are eyeing the prey at every step.

The British media should be thanked a bit. There is not much media pressure on the Englishmen this time around.

Ahead of their last 16 tie, here’s a breakdown of their productivity and functionality on the field; quite surreal and different from the batch of 2010 and 2014.

The side that won the Cup in 1966 had characters like Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton. There are flashes of that hunger in Kane, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and the likes.

What works best is they identified the main man in Kane. The Tottenham Hotspur star also has a solid supply line. Manchester City guerrilla striker Raheem Sterling adds sheen; albeit yet to be proven.

Southgate – the man manager

England manager Gareth Southgate took everyone by surprise by arranging a solid formation with Ashley Young on left, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire - forming the back three rock – in the first two games.

What sets Southgate apart is his man management and team involvement. He creates a one-stop solution for everything. When he needed to rest his best players in the dead rubber against Belgium, he didn’t shy away from making the move. Southgate wanted the entire contingent to feel involved in a big-ticket tournament like the FIFA World Cup; there he is, the human resource employee.

Formation and old school

The midfield-heavy squad makes ball possession look easy. The flexible 3-3-2-2 is like a blooming flower at sunrise. It helps them create flanks and advance.

Southgate still swears by set pieces.

“We have worked on it (set pieces) a lot, for two to three days before the game and it paid off,” Stones was quoted as saying after the opener against Tunisia.

The first goal came off a Stones header which drove the goalkeeper forward with Kane finding the net.

“The records in tournament football that we’ve looked at and researched show a lot of goals have come from set-plays and not open play,” he added.

Stones stressed that the side is trying to thrive on the set pieces asset. “We are trying to capitalise and use it to our advantage. We have a lot of powerful headers. To get two really was (reward for) putting the work on it in training,” said Stones.

Southgate has a fair experience in dealing with youngsters; no wonder you would even spot teenager Alexander-Arnold in his squad. The youth system of England is perhaps the best at present and they like speed.

The England DNA philosophy – who we are, how we play, the future England player, how we coach, how we support the process – is in the vein of the current squad. It was initiated to maintain a consistency and create a pool.

Quarterfinal or not, these Englishmen will stand out in history as the most tactical and attacking crop.