It’s going to Rome!
As Bonucci uttered the words “It’s going to Rome”, every England supporter’s dreams of winning an international final since 1966 were crushed and the pain of anguish over the long wait of 55 years continued.
On Sunday night, Italy won the Euro 2020 final 3-2 on penalties after Bonucci equalised Luke Shaw’s opener in the 67th Minute, to send the game to extra time then to a penalty shootout. Jordan Pickford was fantastic in goal for England making 2 fantastic saves in the shootout however Rashford hit the post and Saka’s and Sancho’s goals were saved by Donarumma, crowning Italy the winners. Once again, penalties proved to be England’s nemesis, the pressure of the situation and tactical decisions proved to be too much for them. However, the lads can finish with their heads held high after giving the nation joy and hope of winning a football international competition since 1966. England united the nation and captivated everyone’s hearts, even non-football fans, for that they can be extremely proud.
Tactically, I think Gareth Southgate did fantastic throughout the tournament however, some of his decisions in the final were questionable such as waiting until the 99th minute to bring on super sub Jack Grealish, bringing on Rashford and Sancho to take a penalty without a feel for the ball and letting a inexperienced young player to take the decisive penalty. However, Gareth Southgate can be very proud of how he has shaped this team, he has managed to unite the team and make sure that they are all one family. This team feels very different to the England teams in the past; this team is young and inexperienced yet still show high levels of maturity. This team isn’t as good as the golden generation on paper, there are no Rooney’s, Gerrard’s or Lampard’s however unlike the golden generation there are no visible divisions in the squad and everyone seems to be one unit and will work hard for each other, there were too many big egos in the golden generation, but this team does not have a single one and I believe England have the resilience, the team and the manager to go on to win the World Cup in Qatar next year.
In saying that, the 2022 World Cup will be tougher; there will be more opponents, such as Brazil and Argentina, and there will be less England supporters cheering them on. I do believe England will be wiser to the pressures of tournaments and their young inexperienced team will then be a year older and more experienced.
I feel it is important for us to recognise how good the younger players in that squad are, for example Bukayo Saka is only 19 and can now say that he has played in a European final and showed the bravery to say that he wanted to take a penalty; he was fantastic all tournament and he can take so much from this experience. I have no doubt that he will go on to learn from this experience and become an England great in the future.
Football didn’t come home this year, instead it took a quick diversion to Italy and will be coming home next year instead.