England began their Euro 2021 campaign with a victory over Croatia in Group D. It always builds up to a sense of excitement as football rivalries are set aside while the love and support for the national team returns.
A whole year of unpredictability and continuous national lockdowns resulted in the tournament being postponed till 2021. However, after a year of ups and downs the nation is slowly but surely getting back to some sort of normality which means the thought of watching the games in the local pubs and beer gardens with friends and watching matches with family members is once again upon us.
The England boss restored the sense of pride in the team during the 2018 World Cup success, he will be seeking to restore the belief of the nation and hopefully go one step further this summer during the European Championship. Yesterday showed the togetherness within the squad and the atmosphere amongst supporters was special to witness once England secured the three points at the end of the game there was a sense of unity and togetherness. At the end of the game, England’s players returned for an ambling lap around Wembley Stadium, showing their appreciation for fans inside the ground.
With arguably their strongest side in a decade and off the back of a semi-final run at the 2018 World Cup, England rank high among the pre-tournament favourites with so much attacking flair with fresh talent coming through the ranks with the likes of Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount bursting onto the scene this summer after making huge strides in their development at their respective clubs during 20/21 campaign.
England’s sides of the past have crumbled under the weight of such expectations to repeat the journey and go one step further however Gareth Southgate addressed the media ahead of their opening game against Croatia as he aims to ease the pressure on his players by stating. “You’re playing for your country, there are a lot of people watching you, but I am sure we will make them proud”.
England and Croatia kicked off their Group D campaign of the Euros at Wembley Stadium. Both England and Croatia were hoping to start their Euro 2020 off with a victory which the Three Lions did. There have been numerous historic clashes between these sides, this one could be fascinating but could England get their revenge after the 2018 heartbreak. Later reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 UEFA Nations League, England have plenty of hype behind them.
Yesterday’s game was no different as a piece of history was written once again as Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling scored his first international goal in a major tournament and fired England 1-0 in front at Wembley Stadium as England won their first match in a European Championship.
YouTube: England vs Croatia 1-0 All Goals & Extended Highlights 2021
It was a great way to cap off a great week for Raheem Sterling as he was given an MBE in the queen honours list this weekend. Mason Mount is another player which rose to the occasion as a No.10 behind Harry Kane. It wasn’t just the passing and dynamism that Mount offered to the team, though.
The Chelsea man led the press for England and was superb off the ball to offer support to both wingers – especially Sterling, who he interlinked with nicely.
Another player in the limelight who was immense yesterday was Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips. There were many doubts from supporters once the team news was revealed. although he proved the doubters wrong as he was very impressive in the middle of the park
. The Leeds United midfielder achieved universal recognition with his display against Croatia. One of the many things that stood out during Kalvin Phillips’s performance was his work ethic. Phillips’ press, his energy, and his defensive work was exemplary – as was his ball for the Sterling winner and it typified the way that Marcelo Bielsa instructs Phillips to play at club level.
Some mixed results in late 2020 have tempered expectations, and there are some concerns over manager Gareth Southgate’s tactical system. Nevertheless, England showed a great blend of physicality and technicality in a 4-5-1 formation with Mason Mount, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, and Phil Foden showing their creativity, particularly in the first half when Phil Foden shot came off the post.
They came into the tournament off the back of six straight wins, which has certainly provided them an excellent foundation to build on throughout the tournament.
England will be looking to continue their momentum going into their second group game of the campaign against Scotland and with their strongest squad at their disposal they will be looking to secure another win in Group D at the Euro Championship.