England are on a roll and are now the red-hot favorites to at least reach the EURO 2020 final on home soil.
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The Three Lions are roaring and Gareth Southgate has got his tactics spot on, his big name players are firing on all cylinders and they hammered Ukraine 4-0 in Rome to set up a semifinal against Denmark, at Wembley, on Wednesday.
As the English say, ‘Football’s Coming Home’ this summer.
Well, at least for the semifinal in front of 60,000 fans. And with the final at Wembley stadium too, England’s fans are dreaming of glory.
So are the players as Harry Kane (who scored twice), plus Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson (who scored a goal each), want to deliver success.
“It is a great feeling. Back-to-back semi-finals at a major tournament is a great achievement,” Maguire said. “I don’t want to be a party pooper. We have another big game coming up. We want to go further this time than at the World Cup. It is a great feeling that we are here and the way we have done it shows the progress we are making. Long may the improvement continue.
“We have great belief in the dressing room. The first half was tough. We got the early goal we wanted but they caused us some problems with their change of shape. The second goal settled us down a lot and from there we controlled the game. The third and fourth were deserved on the night. It was an impressive performance. We now have to rest and recover.
“It is hard to soak it up when you have another big game coming and you know who you are playing and when. The dressing room will be a great atmosphere tonight and then we will wake up tomorrow and be focused again. This group are not settling for a semifinal, we want to go further.”
Three Lions have more to come
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this win, and England in general in this tournament, is that they haven’t really got going yet.
And they’re in the semifinal at their home stadium, against Denmark, for a chance to play in the EURO 2020 final, at Wembley.
“It’s where we wanted to be,” Kane said. “We set out a vision before the World Cup of what we want to achieve. We are knocking it off step by step. The World Cup was great but we fell short, we had a good run in the Nations League. We’re in another semifinal. Now it’s about getting over the line, the next step that we have got to do on Wednesday.
“We have more experience [than 2018]. We’ve been playing for our clubs in big games – Champions League finals, Premier League title races. We’re looking confident. Hopefully we can continue that. The job is not done yet. There’s a lot more football to play… I’m just ready for the next game and try to lead this team to the European final.”
Kane scored twice and now has three in his last two games and he was magnificent, only denied a perfect hat trick by a fabulous save from the Ukrainian goalkeeper.
England haven’t conceded a goal in their five games in this tournament and the likes of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw and now Kane are flying.
Their victory against Germany in the last 16 was pretty convincing and they look in control and calm as they have learned a lot from their run to the World Cup semifinals in 2018.
Perfect quarterfinal sets up well for semifinal
England boss Southgate, a likeable and intelligent manager, has managed the tournament perfectly. So far.
He’s rotated players in and out of the team, managed to keep Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Harry Maguire out of being suspended for the semifinal and there is a real togetherness about this squad. The win against Ukraine was perfect in so many ways and he was able to rest players for the semifinal.
Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden didn’t play at all against Ukraine and Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount were both solid as they played the full 90 minutes after coming into the lineup.
Jordan Henderson, the vice captain, came off the bench and scored his first England goal as the Liverpool captain and Manchester United captain Maguire, have battled back from pre-tournament injuries and are driving the Three Lions on as youngsters step up all over the place.
“We’ve got so many good players in this squad,” Henderson said. “I have to say the lads who haven’t been playing as much they have been outstanding. Training hard the day after a game when they haven’t played. Training hard and doing extra work. Being there for the lads that are playing, supporting them in the changing room.
“You can see the celebrations when the goals go in. That’s the best squad I’ve seen in terms of that in the tournament. We are getting our rewards for that and we need to continue that for the next few days to go in to the biggest game of our lives on Wednesday and give absolutely everything to get to the final.”