After a much longer-than-expected wait — a mammoth 55 years to precise — England have finally secured their place in the final of a major international tournament. Perhaps, with the final taking place on home soil at Wembley Stadium, the same venue the Three Lions won the World Cup at back in 1966, it was written in the stars for Gareth Southgate and his players — all of whom have become national heroes over the last four weeks or so.
It is Italy who Southgate’s side will face in the Euro 2020 showpiece on Sunday (July 11th), and there is very little to separate the two sides in the Italy vs England betting odds — where the Three Lions are slightly more favoured ahead of Roberto Mancini’s men (15/8) at 13/8.
So, as England hope to end Italy’s massive unbeaten streak, which now spans over 30 international games, and get their hands on their first European Championship trophy, let’s take a look at how Southgate’s side have reached the pinnacle of the tournament. Read on to find out more!
With all three of their Group D matches taking place at Wembley, England were expected to wipe the floor with Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic. However, the reality is that Southgate’s side left a lot to be desired in the group stage, and at times, they looked far from a team that could go all the way at Euro 2020. Prior to the tournament, fans and pundits alike had called for Raheem Sterling to be dropped from England’s starting XI. But the Manchester City winger silenced his doubters almost instantly, scoring the only goal of the game in the 1-0 win over Croatia. After a goalless draw with Scotland, Sterling was the difference again against the Czechs, with his header inside the opening 15 minutes once again the only goal of the match.
Round of 16
Seven points from their three group stage matches confirmed England’s place at the top of Group D. However, that meant that the Three Lions would face the third-placed time from Group F — AKA ‘The Group of Death’. With Germany only able to snatch a late point against Hungary on matchday 3, Joachim Löw’s side had to travel to London to take on England at Wembley. The Germans certainly had the better chances in the first hour, with Timo Werner coming close on a couple of occasions, whilst Kai Havertz’s volley was matched by Jordan Pickford. But England made them pay for those missed opportunities when Sterling tapped in from close range. And, when Thomas Müller missed a golden opportunity to equalise, Harry Kane scored at the other end to ensure England’s place in the last eight.
Having dispatched of their old foes, and the likes of Spain, Italy and Belgium on the other side of the draw, England’s chances of winning the tournament were massively slashed in the EURO 2020 winner odds. And they made a real statement of intent against Ukraine in the quarter-finals. At the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, England’s first game away from Wembley, Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes and that set the tone for the rest of the night. Harry Maguire made it 2-0 one minute into the second half, as his powerful header rippled the back of the net, and Kane added his second of the match just four minutes later. Jordan Henderson, who has lost his starting place in the squad to Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, then added England’s fourth with his first international goal.
After losing to Finland and Belgium in their opening two group games, nobody would have expected Denmark to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020. However, their performances improved drastically in the wins over Russia, Wales and the Czech Republic and having gotten this far, this was never going to be an easy semi-final for England. That was evident from the off, as the Danes put a lot of pressure on the hosts, even scoring the first goal of the game, as Mikkel Damsgaard’s powerful freekick almost ripped the back of the net.
However, it wasn’t long before Southgate’s side were back in the game, as less than 10 minutes later, Simon Kjær turned Bukayo Saka’s low cross into his own goal. England kept pressing Denmark in the second half, but Kasper Schmeichel proved to be a brick wall in goal. As the game headed into extra-time, the Three Lions kept knocking on the door and eventually their pressure paid off when Sterling was awarded a very soft penalty. Kane’s original effort was matched by Schmeichel, but the Leicester City shot stopper was unable to hold onto the ball and it flew back into the path of the England talisman, who was never going to miss the gaping open goal.