England’s new Golden Generation to win the trophy?
The England national football team has never won the UEFA European Championship and has never even made it to the final of the Euros since the tournament’s inception back in 1960.
The 1996 Euros would be alive in the minds of many English fans as they lost to eventual champions Germany in the semi-final on penalties with current England head coach Gareth Southgate missing the deciding penalty.
The Harry Kane-led Three Lions squad will be playing all three of their group stage matches at the Wembley Stadium and the fans would be rejoicing after staying at home for more than a year since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world.
Southgate has selected a young batch of players with the 17-year old Jude Bellingham the youngest out of the 26 players. Ben White, Mason Mount, Declan Rice, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka make up the list of eight players under the age of 23 in the English squad.
Full squad: Dean Henderson, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ben White, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling
Nick Pope’s knee surgery at the end of the 2020-21 Premier League season has narrowed the goalkeeping conundrum to Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Manchester United’s Dean Henderson for the upcoming tournament.
Southgate has kept his trust in the Everton goalkeeper since the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup despite many pundits and fans calling for the axing of the 27-year old. Henderson’s rise to the position of Manchester United’s preferred goalkeeper has raised further questions on Pickford’s ability to keep the No.1 shirt in the England set-up.
Sam Johnstone is the third-choice goalkeeper in the squad and it would be a surprise if the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper gets the nod ahead of his younger peers at the Euros.
The fitness of Harry Maguire is the biggest question hanging over Gareth Southgate’s head ahead of the Euros and the ability of the English squad to play with a ‘Back 4’ entirely depends on the Manchester United captain.
John Stones is the ideal partner for Maguire in the centre of defense with Tyrone Mings, Ben White, and Conor Coady capable back-ups to play in the heart of the English defense.
Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell are the two left-backs available to the manager and the Manchester United left-back made it to the PFA ‘Team of the Year’ whilst the Chelsea left-back won the UEFA Champions League less than a fortnight ago.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been ruled out of the Euros with an injury but three top right-backs in Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, and Reece James spell out the strength of the Three Lions in the position.
Gareth Southgate is no Sven-Goran Erikkson and prefers to play with a double pivot in the midfield rather than putting out all the attacking riches available in the squad on the pitch.
Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson are the preferred midfield duo for Southgate whenever fit with Kalvin Phillips and teenager Jude Bellingham providing cover for the injury-prone Liverpool captain.
Mason Mount is the main creative spark in the midfield expected to take up the No.10 spot with Jack Grealish and Phil Foden also capable of playing in the hole.
Harry Kane is the undisputed No.9 for England as the Tottenham Hotspurs striker has stamped himself as one of the best centre-forwards in the sport over the last few years. The 27-year old recently became the first player to win the Premier League Golden Boot and Premier League’s best playmaker award in the same season since 1994. Dominic Calvert-Lewin would be the understudy and back-up for the England captain.
Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho is the most popular candidate for the right-wing slot with Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, and Phil Foden also capable of playing on the right side of the attack. Rashford, Sterling, Foden, Grealish, and Saka will be fighting it out for the left-wing slot as well.
Best Starting XI: Dean Henderson, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Joran Henderson, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, Harry Kane (C), Phil Foden
Predicted finish: Quarter-finals