This article is part of The Guardian Euro 2020 Expert Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organizations from the 24 countries that qualified. theguardian.com is running trailers from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament start on June 11.
Although the turmoil in England has ended up looking ridiculous in previous years, the optimism feels justified this time. It is not necessary to adopt an inferiority complex. He has no right to point out that Gareth Southgate’s side is capable of ending the 1966 talk and all that.
This is not the usual English arrogance before a big tournament. There is no denying that England, who swept the rankings, are one of the main contenders. They boast a fearsome attack and have progressed since reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, adding depth to the squad with the introduction of some excellent young men.
It’s exciting to imagine technically gifted players like Mason Mount and Phil Foden teaming up behind the captain, Harry Kane. Jack Grealish is another one that offers unpredictability and it’s tempting to assume that the main question for Southgate is how best to put together his attack. Raheem Sterling cannot be ruled out despite his nonchalant form with Manchester City and while Marcus Rashford has struggled with injuries this season, the Manchester United striker remains a key player.
However, warnings continue to apply. Despite all the excitement for the attack, doubts linger elsewhere. Jordan Pickford can be erratic in goal. Defense is a concern. Harry Maguire is cause for concern about injuries and while John Stones’ rehab is welcome, the Manchester City center-back’s mistake against Poland in March showed that he has not completely eliminated mistakes from his game.
Southgate’s concern is that England will run into stronger opposition. That is why he has used a backup of three on occasion. Although he has been criticized for his conservatism, Southgate is aware of the need to defend properly and will not throw caution to the wind if he uses a 4-3-3 system. Don’t expect to see England line up with Declan Rice keeping it all together on their own in defensive midfield. It’s likely a pivot double with another player protecting the back four, though Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson are concerned about injuries.
“We have to find a balance,” says Southgate. That is the challenge that awaits the manager. England must be tactically skilled against the best teams, but they must also play with the right pace, show no fear and be adventurous. Southgate doesn’t want to be accused of holding back on this side.
M&S reported that vest sales soared 35% during the 2018 World Cup, when Gareth Southgate’s preference for traditional formal wear made him an unlikely fashion icon. His fondness for fielding two midfielders shows that he is hardly more tactically adventurous than in the locker room, but he is a no-nonsense and serious custodian for a good generation of English talent, and comes into the tournament with one of the best winning percentages in England. manager.
Over the past year, Marcus Rashford, once an unusually talented footballer, has morphed into a figure of genuine national importance, repeatedly defeating the British government one-on-one, earning an MBE and transforming himself into a fashionable commercial property. . She joined Jay-Z’s Roc Nation talent agency, launched a charitable partnership with Burberry, and co-hosted an online cooking show with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. Oh, and he’s started a book club for underprivileged kids and he’s written a book himself, called You’re a Champion.
Thankful for the delay of a year
A year ago, Jude Bellingham was a promising kid with a few championship appearances to his name. A signing for Borussia Dortmund, outstanding performances in the Champions League and injuries to other midfielders made his inclusion inevitable. “I couldn’t be more impressed with him as a human being” is Southgate’s verdict so far. If England win their group, they will play their round of 16 match at Wembley on Bellingham’s 18th birthday.
What the fans sing
As long as there are Three Lions on the England shirt, the Euro 1996 anthem will resonate in the stands. The “30 Years of Pain” now extends to 55, which is depressing and much more difficult to include in the song. Performed by Baddiel, Skinner, and Lightning Seeds, the lyrics include these lines: “Everybody seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before, they just know it, they’re so sure England is going to throw it away, it’s going to fly away. Wow, but I know they can play, because I remember … “
What fans say
“Can’t we hit him?” – Esoteric remix of “stick it in the mixer”, coined by Graham Taylor and repeated occasionally with strong irony.
“Oh God, not another penalty shoot-out” – As in the World Cup, England have won one of four shootouts at the European Championships. Both successes involved Gareth Southgate in a role that he did not assume.
“Are we going to prepare for these euros as we did for the 96 euros?” – Back then, Terry Venables took his tournament hosts on a tour of Hong Kong and China that ended with the infamous “dentist’s chair” drinking sessions.
Pandemic hero / villain
Many footballers have done an admirable job in their communities, but there are exceptions and many of them seem to play for England. Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were kicked out of international travel after an illicit and quarantine relationship with a pair of Icelandic cousins, while Kyle Walker threw a party the day before posting “Everybody Stays Home “on social media. Jack Grealish filmed a video reminding fans that “to help save lives, you must stay home” before leaving the house, going to a party, and crashing into his Range Rover in some parked cars with mismatched shoes.
Jacob Steinberg and Simon Burnton write for The Guardian.
For a gamer profile on John Stones, click here.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism