EURO 2021: Is Football coming home for the Three Lions?

The chaos that is consuming the world has sadly denied us all a summer jam-packed with international football, as the European Championships was initially set to take place through the months of June and July 2020. The historic tournament has been moved to the summer of 2021.

With England’s valiant display at the 2018 World Cup still a nostalgic and warming afterthought, Gareth Southgate’s hand has been forced to look ahead of shaking up the squad and preparing for another hair-raising tournament.

After raising a few eyebrows at the 2018 World Cup, England have been cemented as the clear favourites by Sporting Index to win the tournament, which will pile that extra pressure on the team to perform. Let’s have a look on how the team is shaping up and the possibility of it coming home.

Team Overhaul

Since the last electrifying tournament in Russia has passed, the England team have morphed drastically. Fabian Delph, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Jesse Lingard are some of the names who occupied a spot for that fateful match in the semi-finals against Croatia, but have all faded into a world of obscurity now Southgate is overhauling the squad.

The decline of the past talent has made way for the likes of Jadon Sancho, Ben Chilwell and Declan Rice, just a small glimpse of England’s future talent and the expansion of the manager’s vision.

With Kane spearheading the front line, and the spine of the England team aligning, it gives England fans another beacon of hope as the team dines once more at the international table in the summer of 2021. 

England’s Young Talent

It’s no secret that England harvests a plethora of talent, the game was devised on English soil and has reason to incubate some of the biggest prospects in the game. Southgate has shown on countless occasions he’s open to giving youth a chance. Regardless of age, the England boss will carve out a role for a young player if he believes that it will add another string to the England bow.

Leicester City’s James Maddison and Chelsea’s Mason Mount have demonstrated through the Euro qualification that their prowess and footballing ethos have earned them a place on the plane to the Euros.

Trent Alexander Arnold has been an integral cog to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool outfit, and his performances have made the Three Lion’s boss take note and rotate the young Liverpool hero with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.

Another notable mention who is moving through the ranks is that of Declan Rice. The West Ham maestro has become a midfield lynchpin for the Hammers over the past few years and his hard work has paid dividends, as he finds himself featured more and more in the England first team.

Jadon Sancho, meanwhile, seems to be England’s future gleaming jewel. The rising star came flying out of the blocks at Borussia Dortmund, after he first joined in 2017 from Manchester City. Sancho made it clear, early on, that he was to become Dortmund’s talisman and lead the team to a Super Cup glory. Southgate has included Sancho in the England squad for the best part of 2019/20.

Can England Win Euro 2021?

England have one of the best squads in international football littered with talent across the field. Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham are all brilliant strikers, with Kane clearly a step above the other two, so going into this tournament, England are armed with attacking options.

The team spirit is at an all-time high after a string of positive qualifying results and the dynamism of the squad seems to be going in the right direction. The current crop of England players seems to be getting on and enjoy working as a cohesive footballing unit.

Long gone is the England penalty curse, as the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists dispatched a resilient and battle-worn Columbia in the last sixteen from the spot kick, in a series of nerve-rattling penalties. This penalty victory will carry the England players to the Euros with a more positive mindset if it finishes level at 120 minutes.

Finally, the Euro 2021 final is on home soil, Wembley. Conveniently, the last time England lifted an international trophy was at Wembley in 1966. Home soil is a massive advantage for the Three Lions and the men will be relishing the opportunity to play there.

Where Is Euro 2021 Held?

The 16th European Championship will be staged in 12 host cities, each in different country. The countries include England, Germany, Italy, Azerbaijan, Russia, Romania, Holland, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Scotland and Denmark.

Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea and the thankless job

Maurizio Sarri

Who’d be a manager, eh? More specifically, who would be the Chelsea manager?

When Maurizio Sarri was courted by Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board last summer I’m sure some details were glossed over when trying to entice the Napoli coach to Stamford Bridge. The toxicity existing within The Blues dressing room being the main thing.

Is there a Premier League club with a more concerning ‘player power’ culture?

In recent years, this Chelsea squad has downed tools to oust whoever they were unhappy with.

Caution should be applied as Gareth Southgate’s England reach UEFA Nations League semi finals

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England have had a superb calendar year which has culminated in reaching their second competition semi final in a row, the UEFA Nations League after this summers World Cup. Ironically to do so they had to beat Croatia, the team that they lost to at the World Cup.

The game against Croatia which was held at Wembley Stadium in London was awash with revenge, but it was the away team that took the lead, and with just thirty minutes left it looked like England would yet again lose to the World Cup runners up. But an equaliser followed and Harry Kane got the winner and it’s true that the weight of that World Cup loss was lifted.

The nation is lifted and England will now go to play in the semi finals in Portugal next June- their opponents will not be known until December when the draw is made.

The press have put down England’s opponents. Croatia have been called wannabe’s whilst there was plenty of jibes at Germany after they were relegated from League A. The question though is does any of this really matter? After all Croatia did knock England out of the World Cup and did reach the final. Germany won the World Cup in 2014, and although they have had a rough 12 months will bounce back. Some respect needs to be afforded to these teams.

Imagine if England go on to win the Nations Cup, it would be the first real trophy England would have won since winning the World Cup in 1966- no we are not going to count the Le Tournai tournament in 1998 where the winning captain Alan Shearer had a face like thunder. If England win, the country may just go into hyperbole. But hold your horses, this isn’t the European Championships and it isn’t the World Cup, it is just a glorified competition borne from UEFA that just adds more football to an over inflated season.

In some ways you can’t blame coach Gareth Southgate and the players- they play too win, and there is a trophy and prestige to be won. You beat who is in front of you and now there is an extra final to be played, so of course you are going to take it seriously. But should pundits and fans? Does there not come a time where we can separate the competitions that matter? If we fixate over every small competition are we all just settling for second best? So if England do win it, congratulations, but hopefully there won’t be an everlasting love in, after all it is a competition that just feels like batched glorified friendlies with points.

Southgate is a good coach, a good listener and has a real chemistry with his players. This squad wants to play for him, and let’s not be churlish here, England does have a very good team, good enough to win Euro 2020? Right now that would be in balance, but in 2 years time with progress made and no hitches, England have every chance. Don’t fall for second best has to be the mindset here. Play these games, win them and move on to what really matters.


Tottenham’s game against Manchester City was hijacked by capitalism

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Spin it anyway you please when Tottenham played Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in the Premier League the whole game was spoiled by capitalism. Suddenly the worlds best league and certain the most hyperbole one with television companies willing to spend upwards of £5 billion for rights was reduced to something no better than Sunday league football for youths.

The reason was how the Premier League and football grounds have sold their soul for money. It’s no secret that football changed in England once Sky the satellite broadcaster got involved over 25 years ago. There have been brilliant improvements to the league, let’s make no mistake but they have still come at costs. This was underlined on Monday night when one of the high profile matches of the season was reduced in quality because of an shambolic pitch.

This pitch didn’t belong to a non league team, although it might as well had. No that would be an insult to those teams. This was at the iconic Wembley Stadium. Tottenham champion pretenders against the champions Manchester City, and the pitch was simply awful. Why did this happen? Capitalism and the NFL had come to town like it does every year to rip the turf up. Not only that, the NFL logo was clearly visible in the centre circle as were all the markers for the different yards- the pitch looked like a Subbuteo one. As for the NFL they just got an extra 90 minutes of advertising too.

But the disgrace of the pitch which could have legitimately injured any of the players did not end there. There were also massive gaps around the famous stadium with the top tier almost empty. Just 54,000 people turned up, which feels significant only when you learn that when Tottenham played Liverpool here a few weeks ago there was over 80,000. Again the NFL was to blame as many City fans as well as some Tottenham could not come to the game which was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday and then changed to Monday evening.

And of course the change was because the NFL game was to be played on the Sunday. Finally the state of the pitch did affect the game, forget City’s normally free flowing football and Tottenham’s epic miss from Erik Lamela, all blamed on the pitch.

Whilst it is brilliant to have the NFL come to London and showcase a match, we should be very careful in future not to overlap prime sports all for the sake of greed, and that is exactly what happened on Monday night. If the NFL game was confirmed it was confirmed and that should have taken place no matter what. Tottenham are of course to blame in this fiasco with their stadium delays. But sense should have taken hold and this game should have been postponed to a later date. Annoying yes, but at least more spectators could have witnessed the game, and a missed beautiful exciting one at that.


Tottenham’s new stadium delay could prove a blessing

newspursstadium2Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy has reportedly taken up the FA’s option for Spurs to remain at Wembley Stadium until 2019, delaying the opening of their new White Hart Lane ground amid “construction concerns”. The news will come as a blow to the club who were hoping to play the first game at their new stadium against Liverpool in a shade over a month’s time, and for the time being only the next two matches – and an NFL game scheduled for the venue in October. The home games against the Reds and Cardiff have been relocated to the national team’s stadium, though some reports indicate that Spurs paid a “significant amount of money” for the option to remain at the ground “for a small number of Premier League and Champions League group games”.

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