Hello friends, welcome to a special report on the England team competing in 2020 European Championship finals. We had a great qualifying campaign which saw us advanced to the finals easily. I was allowed to choose a 30 men squad and had to trim 7 players for the final 23 men squad. After careful consideration, these are the players whom we brought to Belgium, the venue of the 2020 European Championship final.
Wayne Rooney was suspended and i prefer to give a chance to younger strikers for big match experience. Individually, i feel England couldn’t match Spain, France or Italy but the teamwork i have seen so far convinced we could be able to give them a fight. My confidence grew after three friendlies were played before the European Championship final.
The win over Moldova was expected but i certainly don’t expect us to beat a talented and full strength Argentinian side and dominated the game in stats. A 5-1 win over Sweden then followed through and most satisfying was Simon Marsh who worked with me in club level repaid my faith by scoring four goals.
To recap a bit, our group opponents consist of Israel, Turkey and Ireland. I expect us to progress to the knockout round. 24 teams were separated into six groups. The top two teams qualified for the knockout round and the other four spots will be give to four teams with the best 3rd place finish.
Match 1 vs Israel
We kicked off the game against Israel on 15th June 2020. Our first half performance was a poor one as Israel managed to run over us and took control though they were unable to produce a goal. I expected a better performance from the players and we saw better play after the break. We took the lead in 58 minutes after a slide rule pass from Yusof Ziya Caglar saw Raheem Sterling broke free and scored in a tight angle. The lead lasted only eleven minutes as a mistake from Kyle Walker saw Israel headed in the equalizer from a corner. There was not much action worth mentioning and the game finished 1-1. All teams had one point as Turkey and Ireland fought out a 1-1 draw in the other game.
Match 2 vs Turkey
I tend to see Turkey as our biggest challengers in this group as they have some regen strikers whom are world class. After the disappointing start, we needed to win this game to stand a chance of qualifying. This time round, we produced a magnificent first half performance and dominated for 45 minutes. Our first goal came after Raheem Sterling saw the run of Yusof Ziya Caglar, sent a delightful chip over the defender’s head for Yusof to put us one goal up. We doubled our lead after Ross Barkley had his debut international goal in injury time with a cracking header from a corner. Turkey started to look more dangerous after the break and we were under a lot of pressure in the last 20 minutes. They pulled a goal back after a confusion from our defenders which saw the ball fell to a Turkish player in close range. Turkey threw their player forward for the equalizer and we had Joe Hart to thank for after he made a pin-point save in injury time. We went on top after two games and Israel was level on points after they beat Ireland 1-0.
Match 3 vs Ireland
Both teams were familiar with each other and Ireland didn’t seem as weak as they are. They gave Turkey and Israel a good fight and they were not to be underestimated. We had the upper hand as the quality of our players were much better than them. Raheem Sterling who had a good campaign so far gave us the lead after the Ireland goalkeeper failed to hold the ball and push it into his own net. That was his only error as he produced a stunning performance later on to deny us and his penalty save from Yusof Ziya Caglar in 58 minutes prevented us from going 2-0. Though they had some decent chances but our defenders coped them well. The game ended 1-0 and we remained undefeated after the end of group stages.
Turkey beat Israel 2-0 easily and the table looked like this.
We had three teams qualified from this group and i was still unable to figure out how the draw was done. Our second round opponent was one unexpected opposition as we will be pitting against France. There were weaker opponents and i could just said it was down to bad luck. There was some familiar faces in the French squad as Yaya Sanogo, Lenny Nangis and Guy Fofana from my West Ham team were called up.
Second Round vs France
They were technically better than us and it would be a huge task for us to overcome them. Rightly so, they started the match brighter and we had to chase for the ball in the first 20 minutes. They pulled the first trigger in 14 minutes when Mbaye Niang received a long ball, dribble down the left flank, cut inside and smashed the ball past Joe Hart. Our first chance came in 28 minutes but Yusof Ziya Caglar put the ball wide. He redeemed his miss one minute later with a powerful shot from the edge of the box and it was 1-1. France was still controlling the game but thanks to Joe Hart, we managed to keep the score level.
Joe Hart had to produce another save five minutes after the break and that strengthened the belief of his teammates. Four minutes later, we went ahead after Ross Barkley headed his second goal of the competition after he reacted fastest from a rebound.The lead lasted eleven minutes and the score was level once again. We failed to keep track of Aly Cissokho in the box from a corner and he hit the ball in from 10 yards. The remaining period saw no further goal though we saw a few scares at times.
Three minutes into extra time, we were dealt a blow as veteran midfielder Moussa Sissoko received the ball from the edge of the box and fired the ball to the top corner which Joe Hart could do nothing about it. We threw every men forward hoping to gain something out of this game but narrow misses from Yusof and Shawcross summarize our best efforts. We were out of the European Championship second round which was a disappointment to the fans and media.
I was patiently waiting for the sack but it never came. The English FA decided to stick with me as they released the following message.
I was very disappointed with our early exit but i couldn’t fault the performance of the players. They had given their all in this competition. My best player was Raheem Sterling who is capable of creating chances for others as well as chipping in some crucial goals. There were a lot of managerial casualties after the European Championship and Spain offered the role of manager shortly after the final. I had to turn it down because i wanted to repay the faith shown by the English FA.
That’s pretty all about the 2020 European Championship, an enjoyable yet disappointing journey so far. I am definitely looking forward to the next competition which is the 2022 World Cup. This time i hope to fare better. Thanks a lot for reading and and if you have any questions, i will be happy to answer them.