The England national football team’s performance in the UEFA Euro 2020, which was held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a remarkable journey that saw the team reach the final, a feat they hadn’t achieved in a major tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966. Here’s a review of their Euro 2020 campaign:
1. **Group Stage Performance**: England was placed in Group D, along with Croatia, Scotland, and the Czech Republic. They started strong with a 1-0 win over Croatia, thanks to a goal from Raheem Sterling. This was followed by a goalless draw against Scotland and another 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic, with Sterling again scoring the decisive goal. These results saw England top their group and advance to the knockout stages.
2. **Knockout Stage Progress**: In the Round of 16, England faced Germany, a match that historically had been challenging for them. However, they emerged victorious with a 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from Sterling and Harry Kane. This victory was particularly significant as it ended a long-standing jinx of not being able to beat major teams in knockout rounds.
3. **Quarter-finals and Semi-finals**: The quarter-finals saw England easily dispatch Ukraine with a 4-0 win, showcasing their attacking prowess. In the semi-finals, they faced Denmark, a resilient team that had been one of the surprises of the tournament. After conceding the first goal, England fought back to win 2-1 in extra time, with Harry Kane scoring the winner after his initial penalty was saved.
4. **The Final**: England’s journey culminated in the final against Italy at Wembley Stadium. They got off to a dream start with Luke Shaw scoring the fastest goal ever in a European Championship final. However, Italy equalized in the second half, and the match ended 1-1 after extra time, leading to a penalty shootout. Unfortunately for England, the shootout ended in heartbreak, with Italy winning 3-2.
5. **Key Players and Tactics**: England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, was praised for his tactical acumen and for fostering a strong team spirit. Key players included Raheem Sterling, who was instrumental in many of England’s goals, Harry Kane, who led from the front as captain, and young talents like Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. The team was also noted for its solid defense, conceding only two goals throughout the tournament.
6. **Legacy and Impact**: Despite the disappointment of the final, England’s performance at Euro 2020 was seen as a significant step forward for the national team. The run to the final brought the country together and created a renewed sense of optimism about the team’s future prospects, especially with the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon.
Overall, England’s Euro 2020 campaign was a mix of skillful play, strategic prowess, and a newfound resilience, marking it as one of the most successful tournaments in their recent football history.