Euro 2020 profile: England expect but can Kane and co deliver?

by | Jun 9, 2021 11:10 | Editorial, Euro 2020

13 June – Croatia (2pm GMT, Wembley, London)

18 June – Scotland (8pm GMT, Wembley, London)

22 June – Czech Republic  (8pm GMT, Wembley, London)

The potential is evidently there in the squad but now England must finally go one better than they did in the last World Cup, Richard Hall writes…

Fulfilling potential

England will take some pride in playing at Wembley in the group stages, although the national stadium will not be full to the rafters. Still, after a good display in the last World Cup, England will hope at the very least to get to the semi-finals. The Three Lions have a multi-talented young squad and there could be some break out stars in the team. Croatia caused all the pain in that semi-final in 2018 so the opening will be an interesting start and could set the tone.

England managed to get over being beaten in the semi-finals of the World Cup by progressing to the semi-finals of the Nations League in 2019. The Three Lions blitzed the group stage, winning seven out of eight games and the only sickner was defeat to the Czech Republic, who also sit in England’s Euro 2020 group. This is why Gareth Southgate will want his team to be alert and start well as Croatia and the Czechs have caused his team issues. Finally the auld enemy, Scotland, will always feel like a derby and therefore in its nature, be unpredictable.

Southgate had many options when picking his squad and surprisingly he took four right-backs. Kyle Walker, Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all selected but an injury in the friendly win over Austria means Alexander-Arnold will miss out. Ben White, the Brighton defender who can also play in midfield, has been named as the Liverpool man’s replacement, ahead of the likes of versatile Ben Godfrey, in-form Jesse Lingard and set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse.

Southgate himself will be looking to repeat past success. His sides are well disciplined and look like they are ready to produce again on the big stage. While sometimes criticised for his lack of experience or his record against the big teams, there is a feeling that this young squad and young coach go hand in glove.

Tactically Southgate is very assured of how his team will play and this probably explains the number of wing-backs. He will almost certainly play with a three-man central defence and that means the wing-backs will be key. They are a large part of the team’s attacking element and, in particular, offer a supply route for captain and main striker Harry Kane. There will be two attacking players either side of Kane and they will need to carry a goal threat if Kane intends to drop deep as he did at Russia 2018, or be more creative if he stays central. England have good options here, including Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford.

Southgate has drilled into his squad the same principles almost regardless of shape, which may shift depending on the opposition. The former Under-21 boss has used 3-4-3 most regularly, but we have seen variations on it – 3-5-2, 3-4-2-1 and 3-4-1-2. Whatever the formation, this squad is arguably better than the one that reached the semi-finals three years ago and there is hope for England to reach a first major final since 1966. But a last four place might be more realistic – this is still a young squad and the likes of Foden, Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham are early in their international careers. With some good early results and momentum England could go far, but a lack of experience may ultimately cost them.

Coach: Gareth Southgate – Southgate has a chequered history with the European Championships but as a boss has led England with distinction, but has been criticised for being too defensive.

Preferred XI: Pickford; Walker, Maguire, Stones; Trippier, Rice, Mount, Shaw; Sterling, Kane, Foden

Southgate looks like preferring a back three but that could change depending on Harry Maguire’s fitness. He may also choose more attacking options at wing-back and in midfield if the game calls for it.

Look out for: Phil Foden was given more game time at club level in 2020-21 and became one of Manchester City’s key players. Still only 21, this could be a breakout summer.

England Euro 2020 squad:

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Brighton)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

England versus…

Croatia P 10 W 5 D 2 L 3 F 21 A 13

Scotland P 114 W 48 D 41 L 25 F 195 A 171

Czech Republic P 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 F 10 A 4

Stats

Population: 67.88m

Nickname: The Three Lions

Top Division: Premier League

FIFA World Ranking: 4th

International honours: World Cup (1966)

Most capped player: Peter Shilton (125)

Leading international scorer: Wayne Rooney (53)

England at the European Championships:

1960 – Did not enter

1964 – Did not qualify

1968 – Third place

1972 – Did not qualify

1976 – Did not qualify

1980 – Group stage

1984 – Did not qualify

1988 – Group stage

1992 – Group stage

1996 – Semi-Finals

2000 – Group stage

2004 – Quarter-Final

2008 – Did not quality

2012 – Quarter-Final

2016 – Round of 16

How they got to Euro 2020: England cruised through Group A with seven wins out of eight.

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