The English people - who in some ways have always considered themselves the world's best football nation since the World Cup gold in 1966 - have had their fair share of disappointments over the years. In 1996, the European Championships were played in England and they had a great team with Terry Venables as head coach. With the home fans behind them, the hopes were high for European Championship gold. It led to the semifinals and a penalty shootout competition. Both teams scored goals on their penalties but then defender Gareth Southgate missed his penalty and sent Germany to the final, and it was once again a disappointment. Maybe it's an omen, and that it is Gareth Southgate who will lead the national team to their long-awaited championship gold. At least the betting companies believe so and of course the English people.
England performed a solid EURO 2020/2021 qualifier and they advanced on easily, but the opposition in the form of Montenegro, Bulgaria, Kosovo and the Czech Republic was not the toughest. They lost one match against the Czech Republic, who they will also face in EURO 2020/2021, all the other matches were won. The Nations League was a mixed bag with one match won against Belgium and one lost.
It should be said that England tested some new players and the result was not always the most important. Gareth Southgate took charge of the national team in 2016 and he has done a brilliant job so far and they looked strong even during the World Cup 2018 when they lost in the semifinals against Croatia. The team has the capacity to take home the gold medal and now up to the players to prove themselves. With odds of just above 6 times the money to win the championship, they are together with Belgium the betting companies favourite.
UPDATE: England has kept up great pace in 2021 with solid results in the World Cup qualifiers, and the preparation friendlies too:
- England 5-0 San Marino (WC qualifier)
- Albania 0-2 England (WC qualifier)
- England 2-1 Poland (WC qualifier)
- England 1-0 Austria
- England 1-0 Romania
With 9 points from their three matches in the WC qualifiers it's fair to say that England are showing close to no weaknesses ahead of EURO 2020/2021. The two friendlies in June have bolstered their position of strength with two solid 1-0 victories. The fact that England has allowed only one goal in total is also a great sign. Their offense is among the strongest of all teams, and if they nail the defence we can count on England going far. A strong defence wins championships is a saying for a reason.
England at EURO 2020/2021
Gareth Southgate started with an eleven that got heavily questioned against Czech Republic, but they got the job done and bagged 3 points. More than that, maybe the most questioned decision of them all - to start with Raheem Sterling, paid off the most. Sterling scored the only goal of the match in the 57th minute, and got "revenge" for all the doubts due to him having a somewhat slow season in Manchester City. Amazingly enough this was also the first time England won an opening match in a European championship, how about that.
While three points and a good start is all that now matters, the opening match left more to be desired. England had moments of brilliance, but as a whole the play was rather tentative at times, and in all honesty Croatia could have easily left the match with a point. Now a massive derby awaits against Scotland, and it's hard to see England do anything else than win. This, even if their performance level doesn't improve.
It has been some rough years for the Scottish football fans as they have not been able to see their beloved national team in any major championship since 1998. Now they are finally back and it will be a tough task, but the Scottish people certainly have more faith in the team than the betting companies have, as they rank them clearly last in the group. After all, they have two home matches at Hampden Park in Glasgow, even though this particular match is played at Wembley Stadium in London.
Scotland finished third in their EURO 2020/2021 qualifying group and was far behind Belgium and Russia. But the team made a successful Nations League run and it was enough to bring them all the way to a European Championship tournament. It is not a national team that takes the spectators by storm, but they play disciplined, work hard and the wins often come in matches with few goals scored. It will be extremely tough but the team should definitely not be counted out considering that they have two home matches in the group.
UPDATE: After the three promising showings in the WC qualification, Scotland has drawn 2-2 against the Netherlands, and won against Luxembourg, 1-0. Another sign of strength, and even if 1-0 against Luxembourg doesn't sound too impressive, there was no doubt that Scotland had more in their tank and that the win could have easily been bigger. If we are to draw a conclusion, it certainly is that the Scottish chances look better than they might have done a few months back.
Scotland at EURO 2020/2021
Steve Clark and his Scottish squad entered the European championship with hopes of winning points against Czech Republic. This did not materialize as the team fell victim to two goals by Patrcik Schick, where one from the midfield was especially highlight worthy. The match itself was a rather even battle that could have gone either way, and Scotland had more than enough chances to get the ball in the back of the net. The killer instinct was sorely lacking though.
Scotland is now in a dire situation where they need to win points against England and Croatia. Nothing but a win is enough to put their trust in, and this creates a great situation for an entertaining match between them and England - as if it wasn't exciting enough to see them clash heads already. It's time for the Scottish defence to step up to the plate, and for a hero to be found in the offensive side of the pitch. The task is gigantic ahead of Scotland if they wish to make the playoffs in EURO 2020/2021.
There are well-known key players such as McTominay, Tierney and Robertson in the team, but that the price is around 200 times the money for them winning gold in the EURO 2020/2021 says a lot.