55 Years and Counting: Is it finally coming home?

55 Years and Counting: Is it finally coming home?

With the Euros final quickly approaching, I explore whether it is really coming home.

I would definitely call myself an optimist. But when it came to England in the Euros, I firmly gave myself realistic expectations. However, after England’s dramatic and convincing win over an impressive German side, I have joined Rio Ferdinand and the rest of the country in saying that it is coming home. With the final looming, I have all faith in Gareth Southgate’s team to bring back the European title.  

Is Southgate up for the job?

Speaking of Southgate, while some people were left confused with his appointment due to his managerial history, through his success with the club he has shown that he is the right man for the job. So much so, he has made it into an Atomic Kitten song. 

 

However, this hasn’t stopped fans from questioning his credibility throughout the tournament. His team selections have been massively criticised. From leaving key players out such as Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, to hugely defensive formations, many fans have found faults in his tactics. But, reaching two consecutive semi-finals is no easy feat. He has proved doubters wrong with incredible results and of course their place in the final.

How have the players performed?

Harry Kane also became a cause for concern with his underwhelming and frankly non-existent performances throughout the group stages. He seemed lost on the pitch, yet as soon as his first goal went in against Germany, he became a whole new player. Although I am unsure if I see him as the right captain for the team (arguments are welcome), I understand Southgate’s faith in him and believe we’ll see more goals from him in the final.

While Kane has proved he is a goal scoring machine, the rest of the team have shown us why they made the squad. At just 19 years old Bukayo Saka has been an incredible, creative asset, while Luke Shaw has shown his experience and complete control over the game. And of course, his unbelievable assists throughout the tournament have profoundly helped propel England to the final.

Additionally, during the competition England have shown consistency. With the passing accuracy of John Stones, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice being above 90 per cent, it is no surprise that they have kept control over each game.

 

Can England beat Italy?

However, even as an England fan I can’t deny the immense strength, ability and of course the style (both on and off pitch) of the Italian team. They have looked unwavering throughout the tournament. Even during their penalty shoot-out against Spain, their unspoken confidence was evident. They look like a team who know they can win. With a 33-game unbeaten streak it is clear to see why. 

Their long run of wins has given them huge momentum and belief. If you join this with their need to make amends after missing out on the 2018 World cup, along with their sheer passion and unbelievable skill, it is evident that they will be a huge challenge for England. 

Unlike England, Italy don’t have a standout goal scorer like Kane. Instead, we have seen the goals shared around the team, showing their striking depth. Lorenzo Insigne, Matteo Pessina, Manuel Locatelli and Ciro Immobile have all got two goals each, demonstrating the threatening force of the Italian team.

Also, defensively Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have proven to be a strong defensive unit by keeping a clean sheet throughout the group stages. 

However, despite everything working in their favour throughout the competition, the loss of Leonardo Spinazzola, due to a reported ruptured Achilles tendon, means Italy will be left without a key part of the team. 

 

Is it coming home?

Statistics aside, it all depends on the day. For me, I think it will be a nervy and highly stressful game for both English and Italian fans, as this game could go either way. But we can’t deny that playing at Wembley will be a huge advantage, and this could give England the slight edge. So, we will just have to wait and see to find out whether it is in fact coming home.

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