England could actually win this thing
England could actually win Euro 2020. Seriously, England could indeed win this thing.
It took beating archenemy Germany 2-0 at Wembley to finally spark the thought, and suddenly the Three Lions are favorites (+200 at BetMGM) – something that just doesn’t happen in major tournaments.
England has not won a major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, when the Beatles were touring the United States. It is noteworthy that the final this year was also held at Wembley Stadium in London and the home side defeated Germany with two goals.
This year only feels Special.
To illustrate the failure of England, the country has not reached the final at either the European Championship or the World Cup since then. The last time England reached the semi-finals of the European Championship was in 1996 when they played host to Wembley on penalties against Germany. (Naturally.)
This competition inspired the song “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home),” which is sung at every major tournament. It was mainly sung in a sarcastic tone by people trying not to laugh. But this year feels unlike if all of the years of bad luck and grief had spawned a perfect storm of circumstances to bring football home.
There’s more than a little luck involved. France, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands are among the traditional European heavyweights already eliminated, while Spain, Italy and Belgium are on the other side of the draw and could only face England in the final.
Exceptionally, the factors that are beyond England’s control are helping rather than hurting her chances.
According to BetMGM, England are favored in the quarter-finals against Ukraine with -250, a team that was outplayed by Sweden in the second round and after a goal in extra time well after Swedes were reduced to 10 men.
Coach Andriy Shevchenko’s team lost two of their three group games and ended with a negative goal difference. But this badly flawed team got lucky and qualified for the knockout round, even though they finished third in Group C behind the Netherlands and Austria – two teams that are no longer participating in the competition.
Gareth Southgate’s England, on the other hand, entered the quarter-finals on Saturday with three wins and one draw in four games – without conceding goals.
And England enjoy a generous home advantage. Should the Three Lions defeat Ukraine in Rome, they will return to their home at Wembley for the semi-finals and possibly the final. When England go the distance, six of their seven games will be played at home.
The semi-final opponent will be either the Czech Republic or Denmark (excluding Christian Eriksen). England would be favored against either opponent in a semi-final on neutral ground. England should be strong favorites on home soil.
The draw, home game and cheap travel arrangements give England a uniquely unfair advantage, but this version of the Three Lions is built for tournament play too: a solid, consistent line-up at the back that keeps clean sheets mixed with a wide range of world-class attacking talent that can break out at any time.
Southgate tampered with its attackers during the tournament, but the fact that Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford are likely Not Making the starting grid in the quarterfinals speaks to the wealth Southgate enjoys in attack. Clubs would pay $ 100 million this summer to acquire any of the above players (Manchester United already is) as it would be seen as a serious discount.
Instead, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, the captain, the two strikers are all but guaranteed to keep their starting spots. Both have played in every game so far. Bukayo Saka is also a good bet to keep his place in the starting XI.
Substitute and set up both goals against Germany, Jack Grealish is still unsafe against Ukraine. However, Aston Villa’s dribbling specialist and playmaker is expected to at least be substituted on.
With so much attacking power as England has, the main reason they could win this tournament is because of their defense. England’s strong point is its stability in defense, with Harry Maguire and John Stones forming the center-back pairing, the pace of Kyle Walker covering the runaway on right-back and the versatility of Luke Shaw seamlessly blending into attack on the left . In the target, Jordan Pickford has yet to allow one goal and was excellent when called.
Add in the reliable but not flashy play of central midfielders Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips and the English are a puzzle that proves difficult to solve. They’re not always a scoring juggernaut – or quite frankly, entertaining them – but being a bit boring and drab might just be a side effect of England being good enough to finally become European champions.
A quarter of a century after the song was first sung, football returns for yet another Wembley final. England seems ready to take it from there.
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