Heavy Metal Football: Euro could be splendid in its unpredictability but a tough tournament than the World Cup


French coach Didier Deschamps (Reuters image)

The euro is where the result usually does not follow the script. Denmark’s triumph under Richard Moller Nielsen in 1992 was so inspiring that it was captured on celluloid, Summer of ’92, available on Netflix. Denmark did not even qualify for the Euro 1992 final and belatedly replaced Yugoslavia, which was not allowed to participate due to the civil war. The Danes won the tournament, beating the German favorites 2-0 in the final.

In 2004, the Greek underdogs beat the big favorites and tournament hosts Portugal, winning the final 1-0. Even in 2016, where France had the best team and home advantage, Portugal beat them to take the trophy.

It’s a tougher tournament than the World Cup. It’s heavy metal football. From that perspective, it would be unwise to pick favorites for this year’s event which begins on June 12. And yet, it would be almost impossible not to fall for the Blues.

Last Wednesday France played a friendly against Wales, a warm-up match in preparation for the main event. It was no surprise that their starting XI is packed with world-class talent, but their reserve bench was just as impressive. French coach Didier Deschamps preferred to keep Lucas Digne, Ben Yedder, Kingsley Coman, Jules Kounde and Moussa Sissoko on the bench for this match.

Ousmane Dembele came on to score a goal. A team that boasts of Raphael Varane, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann must be better than the rest, at least on paper. Deschamps captained France for a World Cup and Euro double. As a coach, he took his team to World Cup glory in 2018, and France remain the pundits’ favorite to win the Euro this year.

Deschamps, however, rightly downplays the hype. “Two years at the highest level is a long time, even if it is not a lot in life in general. There are obviously great expectations after the success that we have had and that is the goal of this team, of this generation, “he recently told AFP in Monaco.

England coach Gareth Southgate surprised by choosing four right-backs in the final squad. To be fair to him, however, he chose the strongest side available. Some Manchester United fans are still unhappy with Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s omission, but his fantastic defensive attributes – especially one-on-one – despite, Wan-Bissaka is not considered fit to play as a winger. in a 3-5 2 formation, Southgate’s preferred choice. The 23-year-old lacks the versatility of Kyle Walker or the groundbreaking qualities of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final third. Alexander-Arnold is now excluded from the tournament due to a thigh injury sustained in a friendly against Austria and it remains to be seen if Wan-Bissaka will replace him. The latter is an old-school right-back, whose offensive side of the game needs improvement.

Southgate has a talented team at their disposal but does this England team have strong characters from top to bottom at Italia 90, Paul Gascoigne’s World Cup? In a conversation, Times (London) chief football writer Henry Winter observed that modern football has fewer strong characters. And from that point of view, England need to have Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson on the pitch in the big games. Both are recovering from injuries and yet Southgate chose them because he knows their importance. Maguire and Henderson are natural leaders and without them England would be deprived of leadership on the pitch.

Watch out for Jude Bellingham. Only 17 years old, but that could be his Euro if Southgate chooses to be daring and throws him in the deep end. Jack Grealish and Mason Mount are in the shape of their young lives, but Marcus Rashford’s loss of form could be a big concern for the Three Lions. England likely don’t have adequate reinforcements for Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho up front, and without Maguire their central defense could falter.

Will Harry Kane’s uncertain future at club be an obstacle? The England captain is heavily linked with a move away from Tottenham Hotspur during the closed season and there is a school of thought that could affect his performance in Euro. But Alan Shearer supports Kane to organize a big tournament. “I entered Euro 96 with Blackburn and of course I had the tournament and then made a decision to make afterwards. Looks like he’s already made that decision. I don’t think it will affect him at all, although it is not settled, ”the England and Newcastle United legend told reporters.

Germany are heading towards the end of a cycle and Hansi Flick will replace longtime team manager Joachim Low at the end of the Euro. After failing to qualify for the finals of the 2018 World Cup, Italy is rebuilding itself under Roberto Mancini. Spain no longer looks like a world champion on paper. Belgium has many top players, but do they have a big tournament winner mentality?

France has the embarrassment of wealth. England will have the advantage of playing their group league games at home, as well as the semi-final and final at Wembley if they get that far. But strike out less sophisticated teams at your peril. The euro could shine in its unpredictability.

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