Sunday, August 1

“Don’t be swayed by history”: England set aside Scotland’s friends and enmities Euro 2020

DThe ominic Calvert-Lewin explained in depth why he owes so much to Duncan Ferguson, his coach at Everton who, as a player, had represented Scotland with such distinction. It was because of the technical help, all those extra final exercises after training, and also the mental aspect. “He has always been the man who has dedicated his time to helping me perfect my craft,” says the English forward. “I can do nothing but thank you for that.”

Calvert-Lewin even claimed that Ferguson would be happy for him if he scored for England against Scotland in the long-awaited Euro 2020 match on Friday night. Then, I would dedicate the goal to him. A pause. “He probably wouldn’t do that,” says Calvert-Lewin, with a smile.

There are limits, as there must be when considering one of the oldest and fiercest rivalries in the game.

Declan Rice has noted how David Moyes, his West Ham coach and another proud Scotsman, has ‘beaten up’ the England midfielder about the game at Wembley and it is fair to say that similar conversations have occurred between many members of Gareth Southgate’s team and several Scottish Colleagues.

On one level, this is the most important, a must win for both teams and, at the very least, a challenge not to lose. But from England’s perspective, all the noise, which will steadily increase until 22,500 fans take their places in the stadium, 2,600 of them Scots, must be handled with the utmost care.

The energy of the occasion is sure to inspire as England did in the 1-0 win over Croatia to open their tournament on Sunday.

Players have talked about how they were driven by the excitement of having a following at Wembley. But the key against Scotland will be to channel your passions correctly and not get caught up in battles that can cause you to lose focus.

England believe they have the quality to defeat Scotland, as they did in the same stage of Euro 96 and in the same place. They must bring the clarity of mind to show it.

England's Dominic Calvert-Lewin credited Everton and Scotland stalwart Duncan Ferguson with improving their game.
England’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin credited Everton and Scotland stalwart Duncan Ferguson with improving their game. Photograph: Peter Powell / EPA

“For me, it will be another game,” says Raheem Sterling. “Of course there is history, but, at the same time, in football you cannot get too carried away by history. You have to focus on the task ahead. We can’t go in there fighting old battles. “

Sterling was asked about his preparations; how he was spending his free time. His answer was one that might have sparked disbelief from some of those who have disputed this accessory over the decades.

“Meditating,” says Sterling. “I am taking a little medication. I try to do it before I go to sleep … just taking a break, being thankful and thankful for the day, just trying to connect. In general, not many of us connect with our bodies and brains, so I’m trying to keep everything connected and to be in a good place. “

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England is in a good place after Croatia; relaxed and confident. His preparations had not been ideal, complicated by the injuries of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, the absence of a large number of players at the beginning of the preparation due to the final commitments of the European clubs.

The squad was also shaken by Christian Eriksen’s collapse during Denmark’s game against Finland on Saturday, notably Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier, who played the midfielder at Tottenham.

“We were on the coach to London and one of the guys had the game on his iPad and it was a total shock, very scary,” says Calvert-Lewin. “It makes you realize how precious life is. My thoughts are with Christian and his family and I think maybe it was a little more difficult for the people who knew him. “

England showed composure against Croatia, down to the detail of applying pressure to the end rather than backing down to protect a 1-0 lead, as they have tried and not often done in the past.

The atmosphere is great at St George’s Park, the team spirit is high. Sterling expressed the belief that the team is stronger than the one that reached the World Cup semifinals in 2018. “One hundred percent, in all areas,” he says. “Everything feels good [after Croatia] and you have to try to take advantage of that. “

England’s players have said the right thing about Scotland’s performance in a 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic on Monday, noting that they created chances; how some breaks went against him. But deep down they will know that Scotland lacked quality at both ends; They are beatable, if England can bring the right attitude.

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“When you try to ignore something, I usually want to think about it more,” Tyrone Mings said of the emotion and history of the match. “If I walk into this press conference and someone says, ‘Don’t look around that corner,’ I’d be really interested in looking there.

“It’s more about embracing the game and understanding the importance of what it means to the fans, but not letting that cloud any judgment or emotion that we may have or feel going into the game. The best way to win a game is to keep your composure and be in control of your thoughts and actions. “

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