‘It’s Coming Home’ has become England’s unofficial anthem at major international tournaments since the hit song ‘Three Lions’ was released by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds ahead of Euro ’96. However, this year, more so than any in recent years, football might actually come home.
With France stunned by Switzerland and England knocking out the Germans, Gareth Southgate’s men are now the favourites to win Euro 2020 and they have a great chance of at least featuring in the Wembley showpiece on July 11th — which would be their first major final since winning the World Cup at the same venue in 1966.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, only 41,000 fans were able to witness Raheem Sterling’s and Harry Kane’s historic late goals live in the flesh at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday evening, but the passionate supporters made it sound like the ground was at full capacity.
The 2-0 victory over Joachim Löw’s Germany was England’s first triumph over their old foes in the knockout stage of a major tournament since that aforementioned World Cup final 55 years ago, and it has set the Three Lions up very nicely for a place in the final, with Ukraine, who beat 10-man Sweden with a last-minute extra-time goal, England’s next opponents.
With Southgate’s side the heavy favourites in the Ukraine v England betting ahead of Saturday night’s encounter with Andriy Shevchenko’s men at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, England’s first game away from Wembley at Euro 2020, before taking on the winner of Denmark vs Czech Republic back on home soil, the nation has probably never had a better chance of reaching the final of a European Championships, nor have they been this confident.
Of course, whilst the England fans and many of the TV pundits have been very quick to jump the gun, with most basically claiming that the side’s place in the final is all but confirmed, the players must ensure that they do not get caught up in the hype of it all, and focus on the task at hand.
After all, football is a funny old game. Just ask the French, who many thought already their name engraved on the trophy before the Swiss came along, or the Netherlands, who were tipped for a lengthy run to the latter stages of the tournament before they were shocked by the Czech Republic in Budapest last Sunday.
However, with a manager like Southgate, England have one of the most level-headed, modest coaches in the tournament and even in the wake of the mammoth victory over the Germans, the 50-year-old was quick to quash any talk of getting carried away or even rewarding his hard-working players with some time off to enjoy the win.
In fact, whilst many were jumping the gun and perhaps even purchasing their final tickets from UEFA’s website, Southgate was telling the press that the victory over Germany has actually made England’s job of winning the tournament harder.
“It’s a dangerous moment for us,” Southgate said. “We’ll have that warmth of success and the feeling around the country that we’ve only got to turn up to win the thing – and we know it’s going to be an immense challenge from here on.”
On paper, England’s pathway to the final is one that shouldn’t boast too many bumps along the way, and that is heavily reflected in the EURO 2020 winner odds.
However, they still have at least 120 minutes of football to play before they can even think about the final. So, they need to knuckle down and remained focused, as it would be a monumental failure if they miss out on the Wembley showpiece from here.
Image Credits: StockSnap