The threat of coronavirus affecting Euro 2020 is very real, but we live in hope that the tournament will go ahead as scheduled with minimal disruption to the games. So assuming that the tournament gets the go-ahead, what can we really expect from the England team this time around?
Our talismanic captain Harry Kane is sidelined with an injury and being rushed through his rehabilitation. Our most threatening attacking outlets in Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling have hit considerable slumps in their form while Tammy Abraham is struggling with injury. But believe it or not, even with all of these setbacks, the majority of bookmakers have England as the tournament favourites. This will of course change as the weeks go by, but trust us, we’re as shocked by that as you likely are.
Why all the positivity?
Now don’t get us wrong, the squad enjoyed a stellar qualifying campaign and many of the players exceeded expectations at the 2018 World Cup, but with all those setbacks we just mentioned, why are we all still so positive?
For starters, there’s the blistering form of one Danny Ings. He’s scoring for fun at Southampton and seems to have finally found his groove after an injury-plagued spell at Liverpool. Ings is fully deserving of a place in the Euro 2020 squad and could potentially be a starter depending on the fitness of Kane.
Then we have Dean Henderson who, on current form, really should be in ahead of Jordan Pickford. The Sheffield United keeper is expected to return to United this summer and compete with De Gea for the number one jersey. In fact, if rumours are believed to be true, De Gea himself could be off to PSG in the summer leaving Henderson to take over.
Pickford will likely stay in goals, but if Henderson is given his chance, it could have a hugely positive effect on the backline. And speaking of that backline, we have a wealth of talent to choose from particularly at full back. Ben Chillwell and Luke Shaw will cover the left while Trent Alexander Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Kyle Walker are all vying for the right back position. That’s a lot of talent, most of whom love to roam forward and ping in crosses.
The midfield is similarly well stocked with the likes of Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, and Harry Winks enjoying solid seasons. To be honest, Southgate’s main issue here will be who to call up to the squad and who to start. He’s quite literally spoilt for choice.
What can we expect?
Caption – Southgate’s decision on who plays in goal will have a huge impact on the team’s chances
If they maintain their current runs of form and if one or two players (Kane and Abraham) hit the ground running on their returns from injury, then we fully expect England to make the semi-finals at the very least.
The squad have plenty of attacking talent throughout and scoring goals won’t be a problem. What could be an issue though is Pickford’s propensity to drop clangers here and there. There’s no doubt, he’s a good keeper, but is he really the best goalkeeper England have right now? Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, and perhaps even Ben Foster (if he was available) might beg to differ.
We hate to say it, but despite his solid outing at the 2018 World Cup, Pickford could prove to be the weak link. The chink in the defensive armour that could end up being quite costly. After all, when a right back makes a mistake, it doesn’t always result in a goal. A goalkeeper, on the other hand, has a lot more riding on his errors.
If Southgate decides to twist and give Henderson a chance in goal, we just might see England make it all the way to the final. And if they make it that far, then who knows what might happen. Could this be the end of those decades of hurt? Whisper it quietly, but this England team have a genuine chance at becoming legends.