Southgate you’re the one…
The England squad at this European Championship’s have already made history; on Sunday they have the chance to make even more
It has taken over half a century, but the England men’s football team has finally reached a major championship final.
The ups and downs of the semi-final clash with Denmark had everything that an adrenaline charged fixture should have. Denmark took the lead with an absolutely stunning free kick scored by Mikkel Damsgaard. In days gone by, a goal of this stature would cause an England side to lay down and die. However, this squad is like no other in the last few decades.
Under Gareth Southgate, England don’t know when to quit. A beautifully worked move resulted in Simon Kjær being forced to divert the ball into his own goal. It was perfect timing for England, and made sure the first half ended all square.
England grew into the second half and the chances became more regular. The options Southgate had on the bench were full of quality, and the introduction of Jack Grealish in normal time and Phil Foden in extra time gave England a dimension that caused trouble for the Danes.
The English winner was controversial, and when VAR was brought in on the penalty decision I was almost certain the decision would be overturned. However, it wasn’t to be for Denmark fans everywhere.
Harry Kane was thwarted in the initial effort from the spot but had just enough time to thump home a vital second goal.
The Danish proved to be a side hard to break down and England’s efforts to overturn the first half deficit and win shows a level of character rarely even seen by an England side.
Kasper Schmeichel is a premier league winning goalkeeper who is one of the best in the business. The fact that is has taken an own goal and a penalty to eventually puncture the danish side, he made plenty of saves throughout the contest
Under Southgate, England are a well drilled unit with more depth of talent in their squad than an Olympic sized swimming pool. Southgate’s chosen starting lineup leaves out several key players, but it is huge to know what the likes of Phil Foden, Reece James and Jadon Sancho on the bench. If you factor in players who missed out on the squad, such as Patrick Bamford and James Maddison, then England’s quality goes even further than those who received the call up.
Whatever happens on Sunday night, this group of England players have already made history. The critics will say that they had an easy route to the final. Yet on the way, they have beaten the 2018 World Cup finalists (Croatia), three time winners of the European Championships (Germany) and a resurgent Danish side.
You can only beat what’s in front of you, and the only side England have failed to beat at this tournament is Scotland, a result which didn’t have too much impact on their route to the final.
On Sunday night, win or lose, the England squad will have done the nation proud. Following a tough year and a bit, seeing the national side play in the manner they have has done us all a lot of good. Topple the near impregnable Azzurri, and this squad will go down in English footballing folklore.