What a tournament Euro 2020 has been so far.
England is yet to lose a game and yet to concede a goal: are the fans getting behind their country, as one might expect? No, of course not – the England fans are in their usual armchair management roles. Along with the gutter media in the UK, the fans are writing their country off, ridiculing every performance, players and manager-alike. It’s painful to hear and watch on social media.
A beautiful story is emerging through the Danish team, though, a team that is Denmarking its territory and flourishing after the trauma of the Christian Eriksen incident in its first match. Some studies suggest that after experiencing trauma, a group may bond together and work harder, better and more efficiently in the face of adversity. Denmark is certainly doing this with aplomb, destroying Wales in the first last 16 match (4-0) and setting up a quarter final with Dutch-slayers, The Czech Republic.
Should Denmark Czech the progress of Republic then the team will see itself in the semi-finals (where it may face England/Germany). Should England beat Germany on Tuesday night, it will face a team at least 14 places lower than it in the world rankings in the quarter-finals (either Sweden ranked 18th or Ukraine ranked 24th). Indeed, Germany is ranked 8 places below England (12th and 4th, respectively). England play at home on Tuesday and – as previously mentioned – is unbeaten in the tournament. The team is yet to concede a goal and playing on the back of reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. What more does the England team need to do to get the fans behind their team?
If we look at the rankings of the teams on England’s side of the draw, the winner of Tuesday’s last 16 match should go on to reach the final – if that’s not enough to inspire the England fans, I don’t know what is!
On the other side of the draw, Belgium claimed its place in the quarter-finals by beating reigning champions Portugal on Sunday night, through Thorgan Hazard’s wonder strike. However, injuries to arguably the world’s greatest midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne and Thorgan’s brother Eden Hazard (also one of the world’s best), have put a dampener on the euphoria.
Belgium will face Italy in an eagerly anticipated quarter-final. Italy sailed through its group without conceding a goal, winning all three matches. However, it wasn’t as easy in the last 16 as less fancied Austria put up an awesome fight taking the match to extra time. Italy did what great teams do, though, it won, albeit ‘ugly’.
If Germany, Portugal and France were in the ‘group of death’ then France’s side of the draw has to be labelled the ‘side of death’ with Portugal already a casualty and Ronaldo taking his water bottles home. The other side of the draw to England sees France, Spain, Belgium, Italy and World Cup 2018 finalists, Croatia, battling it out for a place in the final.
I’m sure German fans are relishing the ‘easier’ side of the draw and I think it’s time that England fans did the same!
France only managed to draw with Hungary (a team 35 places below them in the world rankings). Germany also scraped through to the last 16 by drawing with Hungary. Alas, we do not see the French and German media and fans slaughtering their national teams. Rather, we see patriotic optimism and belief. More of this, please!
Dare I say it…
IT’S COMING HOME!!!