Is Euro 2020 England’s Tournament to Lose?
The European Championship may still be five months away, but many of the top-rated online sports bookies already have England as the favorite to win the tournament.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be an England supporter. It feels like a new English youngster is bursting onto the Premier League scene on an almost weekly basis at the moment, while the country’s more experienced players continue to shine at the highest level.
Gareth Southgate’s side shocked everyone with their run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018. England wasn’t among the favorites in Russia, but now big things are expected of the Three Lions at Euro 2020.
In this post, I cover a number of key reasons that prove England is capable of winning Euro 2020. Let’s start by looking at England’s players.
England’s Euro 2020 Team Has Strength in Depth
From the World Cup-winning side of 1966 to the great underachievers of 2004, it’s fair to say that England has been blessed with more than their fair share of elite players over the years. But the current crop of English stars is arguably right up there with the very best.
Let’s check out the options available to Southgate at the moment.
Jordan Pickford is England’s current No 1. The Everton goalkeeper’s heroics at the 2018 World Cup have seen him hold onto his place in Southgate’s starting eleven. However, the Toffees have been struggling this season, and Pickford has come in for criticism.
Nick Pope has kept seven clean sheets for a poor Burnley side this season, so he is another fantastic option. Tom Heaton has also staked a good claim with his consistent form, but the Aston Villa shot-stopper is set to miss the remainder of the season due to injury.
Dean Henderson’s eye-catching performances for EPL surprise package Sheffield United have seen him gain international recognition recently, while 21-year-old Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale will also be on Southgate’s radar.
At just 21, Trent Alexander-Arnold has already established himself as one of the best right-backs of his generation. The Liverpool youngster is set to play a key role for England at Euro 2020. But he’s not the only top-class right-back that England possesses.
Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are all notable understudies, while Chelsea’s 20-year-old prodigy Reece James has recently emerged as another excellent right-back option for Southgate to consider.
Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell has made the left-back spot his own. But Luke Shaw and Danny Rose are more than capable deputies. Beyond that, Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon is also in with a shout after featuring heavily for England’s youth teams in recent years.
England is not famous for producing ball-playing center-backs. But thanks to players like Harry Maguire, John Stones, Joe Gomez, and Michael Keane, Southgate has been able to get his side playing an attractive brand of passing soccer. Maguire is probably the only guaranteed starter at the moment, but Gomez’s fine season for Liverpool could see him cement a place in the team soon.
The Three Lions’ midfield is also packed with quality. Mason Mount, James Maddison, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Jack Grealish are all battling for a place in the starting lineup, so Southgate is spoiled for choice when it comes to attacking midfielders.
The manager has favored Chelsea’s Mount in the number 10 role, but Maddison and Oxlade-Chamberlain have both featured in recent games. The fact that Grealish — one of the Premier League’s standout performers in 2019/20 — is yet to receive a senior international call-up speaks volumes about England’s strength in depth.
With Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, and Harry Winks all able to play in a deeper role, Southgate has plenty of options when it comes to choosing midfielders that can protect the backline.
If Pep Guardiola continues to give Phil Foden game time at Manchester City and Dele Alli maintains his outstanding form under Jose Mourinho at Tottenham, England will head into Euro 2020 with a seriously strong midfield.
England captain Harry Kane is one of the best forwards in the business. The Tottenham striker is currently sidelined with a lengthy injury, but he’ll be back in time to lead the line for his country at Euro 2020.
Kane recently became the first England player to score in every game in a qualifying campaign, so you could argue that the star striker is indispensable to the team. There’s no denying that England would miss Kane’s presence in attack, but they have plenty of other proven goalscorers in their ranks.
Tammy Abraham has been a revelation for Chelsea this season, while Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is enjoying his best goalscoring campaign to date. Raheem Sterling is now one of the most prolific forwards in the game, while Danny Ings — the EPL’s second-highest scorer this season — is in the form of his life.
With young forwards Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi continuing to prove they’ve got what it takes to play a big role for their national side, England has an abundance of top attacking options.
Home Advantage During the Euro 2020
This year’s European Championship has a unique format. Rather than one country hosting the event, Euro 2020 will be held in 12 different nations to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the inaugural tournament.
However, England is one of the host nations, and this means the Three Lions will play all three of their group games on home soil. This will undoubtedly give the team a big boost in the early stages of the tournament.
Also, if that wasn’t enough, Wembley is being used to host some Round of 16 games, along with both semi-finals and the final. This means that, if Southgate’s side was to reach the final, England could play six of their seven games at their national stadium.
Traditionally, the host nations of European Championships and World Cups have done well. The added lift from the home supporters can often carry a team through a tournament, while a settled training camp is hugely beneficial to both players and coaches.
The new format could see England play a knockout tie in Budapest, Dublin, Copenhagen, Glasgow, or Bilbao, depending on where they finish in their group. Still, with some teams having to travel across the continent, England can count themselves lucky to only be playing one game away from home.
Even if Euro 2020 was being hosted on foreign soil, England would still be one of the favorites to lift the trophy. But England’s home advantage for this year’s tournament could give Southgate’s side the edge over their rivals.
When England last hosted the European Championship in 1996, Southgate’s penalty miss saw the Three Lions lose to Germany in the semi-finals. The current England manager will be desperate to go one better this time around.
Premier League Managers
The EPL is renowned for attracting the best players in world soccer, but this has arguably had a negative impact on the national team over the years. The influx of foreign superstars has often seen homegrown players starved of first-team opportunities. But recently, things have changed.
Along with the world’s best players, the Premier League is also home to some of the top managers in the game. Man City boss Pep Guardiola is widely regarded as the pioneer of modern-day coaching, while Jurgen Klopp has revolutionized Liverpool.
The impact that Guardiola has had on Raheem Sterling’s career cannot be overstated. The Spaniard has transformed Sterling from a promising youngster to a truly world-class forward, and Guardiola’s success with Sterling has benefitted England. The 25-year-old has notched up ten goals and nine assists in his last eleven appearances for his country, a remarkable return.
In Phil Foden, Man City also possesses one of the brightest young talents in English soccer. Guardiola — who has managed the likes of Lionel Messi and Andreas Iniesta — believes Foden is the most talented player he has ever seen. If the City manager continues to nurture Foden correctly, England will have a gem of a midfielder.
Klopp must be given huge credit for the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez. After winning the Champions League last season, the Liverpool defenders look set to pick up a Premier League winner’s medal this term. Both players have played starring roles for the Reds over the past couple of campaigns, and their big-game experience will be invaluable for England.
The German manager has also taken Jordan Henderson’s game to another level. The 29-year-old has flourished under the guidance of Klopp, and Henderson is likely to play a pivotal role for his country at Euro 2020.
Brendan Rodgers is another manager giving young English players the opportunity to thrive in the Premier League. James Maddison and Ben Chilwell are both vitally important for the Foxes, so England’s squad is now packed with players that compete at the highest level on a weekly basis.
We also mustn’t forget about the work Frank Lampard is doing at Chelsea. The Blues boss has put his trust in the club’s homegrown players, and they have repaid their manager’s faith. Chelsea youngsters Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, and Callum Hudson-Odoi are all expected to be in England’s squad for the upcoming European Championship.
The Premier League’s global appeal once had a negative impact on the national side. But the world’s elite managers are now inadvertently helping England to become a force in international soccer once again.
England boss Gareth Southgate was initially hired on a temporary basis. Southgate stepped up from his role as the country’s Under-21s manager following Sam Allardyce’s departure in September 2016. But after impressing as interim boss, the FA made Southgate’s position permanent.
For someone who is relatively young in terms of coaching, Southgate’s bravery to experiment and bring new ideas to the national side must be commended. England is now a very versatile team, and their dynamism makes them extremely dangerous.
Southgate is also a firm believer in youth development. He worked with a lot of the country’s current senior squad during his time as Under-21 boss, and his experience at junior levels has enabled England’s young stars to shine on the international stage.
However, while England’s squad is still relatively young, many of Southgate’s key men have major tournament experience. Players like Kane, Rashford, Sterling, and Henderson all featured at Euro 2016, while the likes of Maguire and Alexander-Arnold went all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018.
England’s run to the last four in Russia ultimately ended in disappointment, but the players will use that failure to fuel their Euro 2020 campaign. England’s World Cup heartache hurt the team at the time, but they will now be stronger with that experience under their belt.
Southgate’s side may not have won the World Cup, but it’s fair to say that the tournament was a success for the Three Lions. England went into the competition with very little expectation and came out the other side as heroes.
This current England side has a perfect blend of youth and experience. Much of the squad has already been through a lot with their national team, while the fearless newcomers will be eager to express themselves on the biggest stage in European soccer.
Over the past few years, Southgate has built a special relationship with his players and has gotten the country excited about watching their national team play.
Not so long ago, England’s squad was seriously depleted. Previous managers were consistently selecting aging players, and the team had no clear vision. But those days are now over.
England is now capable of competing with the very best teams in world soccer, and Southgate’s long-term project could well bring the Three Lions some long-awaited silverware this year.
Make sure you keep an eye on the blog for all the latest Euro 2020 news and predictions as the tournament draws nearer.