To look at Euro 2020, it’s hard not to believe the England team will finally end 56 years of hurt. They’ve been going from strength to strength ever since a steady if unspectacular beginning to the championships. Even long-suffering fans are starting to think that the typically impossible is possible.
Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, has designed a predictability model that states England has a 57.7% chance of reaching the final and a 31.9% chance of winning the tournament. The Lightning Seeds famously sang “It’s Coming Home,” an ode to the humble origins of the game. So, why is Euro 2020 the best opportunity for the nation since winning the World Cup in 1966?
A Very Open Draw
The group stages have been the hardest part of the tournament so far for Gareth Southgate’s players. After settling into the opening game against Croatia, his side ground out a goalless draw against Scotland before perking up when facing the Czech Republic. The ghosts of former competitions lurked in the background against Germany, yet Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling finally laid those souls to rest.
Now, with a semi-final draw against Denmark, and the England v Denmark odds strongly suggesting England will progress to the final on July 11th – they are the 1.30 favorites – it seems as if Kane and co. are destined to contest the showpiece curtain-raiser against either Spain or Italy. Both are quality sides, particularly the Italians as they are rejuvenated under Roberto Mancini.
Plus, with the squad peaking at the perfect time, and nearly every member contributing, the confidence within the locker room will be sky-high. If England can get past the Danish, they won’t fear anyone.
A Home Tournament (Almost)
When you go through the annals of football history, you’ll notice a pattern regarding tournament hosts and the eventual winners. For example, England claimed the nation’s inaugural World Cup victory in 1966 at Wembley. France did the same in 1998, dismantling the Brazilians on home turf in the Stade de France.
While the English aren’t officially hosting Euro 2020, the country pretty much is since the majority of the games have been played on their shores. The fixtures at Hampden Park only add to the Britishness of the event. Of the seven matches England will need to play to break their duck, six of them will have been at Wembley. That’s a percentage of 86%, with only a sole tie in Rome against Ukraine.
🏟️ Wembley Stadium will host both the semi-finals & the final at EURO 2020 🔜
But what’s the best game to ever take place there? 🤔#EURO2020
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 4, 2021
Therefore, when you combine the home advantage with the open nature of the draw, it’s no surprise that the national team’s odds to win the tournament outright have narrowed to 2.4. That’s the power of a home crowd.
Offense Is Combining with Defense
England’s defensive attributes haven’t been in question from the opening round. In five games, they are yet to concede a goal, including a competitive fixture against Germany. The Germans weren’t at their best, but they carried an attacking threat throughout the tournament, most notably when hammering Portugal.
England’s problem has been their goal-shy attack. Up until the knockout stages, they had only scored twice, and only one player had broken his duck. The fact that Harry Kane wasn’t razor-sharp was cause for concern, until the 86th minute against Germany.
Since then, he has bagged two more, taking his tally for Euro 2020 to three. It’s not inconceivable that he may finish as the competition’s top goal scorer. England have made it to the semis thanks to a defensive base. If that is coupled with an offensive threat for the final two games, the Three Lions will be tough to deny.
Anything can happen in football, so there are no guarantees. Southgate must focus on getting past Denmark first before his team turns its focus to a potential final. However, if they do make it to their first final in 55 years, they will undoubtedly be the favorites as they will be playing at Wembley.