Now or never: England aims for glory at EURO 2024!

England is ready for glory (Photo:

With less than a week left until the start of EURO 2024 in Germany, the excitement among football fans is growing immensely. It’s no surprise to many that England is once again entering the tournament as a favorite, seeking success on the big football stage after an almost flawless qualification campaign. “The Three Lions” finished at the top of their group, surpassing their nemesis from the final of the previous European Championship and current champion, Italy. Under Gareth Southgate’s leadership, the English team scored a total of 22 goals and conceded only four, demonstrating their power.

The national team made a strong showing at the last European Championship, reaching the final but losing to the “Azzurri” after a penalty shootout. The ambitions in the camp remain the same now – England not only wants to compete but also to win the tournament. Although Southgate’s position at the helm of “The Three Lions” seems stable, another failure could spark discussions about his future.

The islanders rely on a star-studded squad, especially in the midfield, where players like Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are the main conductors, while young talents like Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton are expected to bring fresh ideas. Let’s not forget Trent Alexander-Arnold from Liverpool, who is traditionally a right-back but will likely be used as a midfielder by Southgate. Captain Harry Kane remains a key player in attack, alongside youngsters Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, and Cole Palmer.

However, the defense has shown instability in recent matches and will pose a challenge. Experienced players like Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Joe Gomez, Lewis Dunk, and Luke Shaw will be relied upon, with new names in the squad including Ezri Konsa and Marc Guehi. Interestingly, players like Harry Maguire, James Maddison, Jack Grealish, and Marcus Rashford were left out of the squad for the tournament in Germany, which came as a surprise to most experts.

England will be in a group with Serbia, Denmark, and Slovenia and is the absolute favorite to win it. Thus, “The Three Lions” head into EURO 2024 amidst high expectations. If Gareth Southgate’s team doesn’t reach the very end, the disappointment will be immense.

Time to See What This England Team Can Offer!

The Manager

This will be Gareth Southgate’s fourth major tournament at the helm of England. No manager has led the team for such a long period since Sir Alf Ramsey. Whatever happens in Germany, Southgate is already the most significant manager in modern English history, and this tournament will determine his legacy and future.

His contract expires at the end of this year, and if England disappoints in Germany, it will likely mark the end of his eight-year tenure. He might leave with the feeling that he hasn’t fully utilized all the resources available to win a major tournament. However, if England wins or at least reaches the final, the 53-year-old specialist might get one last chance at the World Cup in North America in two years.

Given Southgate’s long tenure, opinions in England are now divided about his future. For some, he is the savior of English football, bringing the team back to where it belongs. For others, his negativity and lack of creativity are hindering the new golden generation. Perhaps only a triumph in Berlin on July 14 will settle this debate.

What Could Be England’s Secret Weapon?

One of Chelsea’s American owners, Todd Boehly, mentioned earlier this month that he hopes Cole Palmer will soon become a household name in the United States, and certainly, this is the direction his career is heading after a brilliant first season at Stamford Bridge.

No one knew Palmer was capable of such a season: 22 goals and 10 assists in 28 Premier League starts. He has only two appearances for England, but even if he doesn’t break into Southgate’s starting eleven, he could be the joker off the bench.

His knack for scoring, apparent calm in tense situations, and ability to score from unusual positions and scenarios make him a real secret weapon for the team.

What Are England’s Strengths?

Two things stand out. First, the experience and backbone of this team: goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, and Harry Kane have been constant fixtures in major tournaments since 2018. The only missing players now are Harry Maguire and former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. But even without them, the remaining players know what to do and how to defeat world-class teams, which will be invaluable for the team this summer.

The second strength is that no England manager has ever entered an international tournament with more attacking firepower than Southgate has now. Kane scored 44 goals in 45 matches for Bayern Munich last season. Jude Bellingham has been a real leader for Real Madrid, and Phil Foden won the Player of the Year award in England, while Bukayo Saka is an integral part of Arsenal’s revival. For most of the “Three Lions” players, this tournament comes at the perfect time.

What Are the Weaknesses of This England Team?

Despite all the attacking power, problems could arise from the defense. Southgate is in the same position he has been for several years. He relied on John Stones and Harry Maguire as the central defensive pair, but the latter had a tough year at Manchester United and was not included in the squad.

Now, Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi is expected to take Maguire’s place in the starting lineup. Additionally, there is no obvious choice for left-back, with Luke Shaw recovering from an injury and no clear alternative. Kieran Trippier, who has experience in this position for England, also had a difficult season at Newcastle, and there is no clear partner for Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in central midfield, except for young Kobbie Mainoo, who is still only 19 years old and lacks experience in such matches.

This is the problem for the “Three Lions” – the squad’s depth is not evenly distributed. The question arises: “Is this defense solid enough?” A fresh example is the 0-1 loss to Iceland at Wembley on Friday night.

Southgate’s decision not to call up Maguire due to his physical problems and Jarrad Branthwaite due to his inexperience meant finding a new partner for Stones in central defense. With Marc Guehi and Lewis Dunk, Southgate chose two right-footed center-backs and no typical left-back.

Frankly, Guehi played well against Iceland. He and Stones had started together only once before – in the humiliating 0-4 loss to Hungary in the Nations League in June 2022. Ezri Konsa replaced Stones at halftime, but England’s defensive problems were further up the field in that particular match.

Time is not on England’s side, and Southgate must quickly find a solution to the problem.

Will Football “Come Home”?

The team’s performance against Iceland did not justify England’s status as one of the favorites to win the European Championship this summer. However, this doesn’t mean that we won’t see a completely different and much better England during the actual tournament.

Southgate has done well since taking over the position and continues to try to prove to people that England must work hard to win major trophies. But after a semi-final, a final, and a quarter-final in the last three championships, there is a sense that expectations have increased once again.

No team is coming into this European Championship with better individual players than England. It’s undeniable that the team has achieved everything with Southgate, except winning a major tournament. But really, if not now, then it seems like there will never be a better time. To be a winner in a competition of this caliber, you need a solid foundation, as history has repeatedly shown. For reference – just ask the Italians from three years ago…

Krasian Mitev
Krasian Mitev
Krasian Mitev is a Bulgarian sports journalist and analyst. He has worked for a number of sports media, including Topsport, Boets, Sportnamasa and many others. Krasian is responsible for a number of football analyzes and previews, as well as the verification of some bookmakers.

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