For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), England go into a major tournament as the favourites to win it all. This is unchartered ground for most as on an international stage they are rarely given the moniker of favourites. Question is then, can they do it? Can they cope with not only the nations hopes resting on them but also the world watching their every move. In a word, Yes, yes they can.
Being given the title of favourites might be unheard of on an international stage, however teams from England, where most of the players play, are regularly touted as favourites over their European adversaries. For the most part English clubs will usually have their hand in a European final of some description, whether that is the Champions League or the Europa League. This puts them into a pressure cooker situation, they should be winning this game and therefore failure is not an option.
Set them up, knock them down
England will find themselves in what should be a relatively straight forward group to progress. The old enemy Croatia, Czech Republic and Scotland. Croatia will be a stubborn test, having tasted defeat at their hands all too recently at the 2018 World Cup. This game will be a chance to avenge that loss and show the competition who is boss. With regards to both Czech Republic and Scotland, both teams are definitely beatable and should not prove too tough a task to dispose of.
After the group stage it is anybody’s game, however the hoodoo of a penalty shootout no longer looms like a thick cloud of fog over the England psyche. No, after the defeat of Colombia on Penalties in Russia, the plague that had been destroying England’s spirit for so long, was gone. With this ability to win a knockout game wherever the game goes, England with a head of steam, could be unstoppable.
Nothing’s going to stop us….wait!
With England full of confidence, the title of favourites worn like a badge of honour, surely nothing can go wrong? Well Southgate can. Questions have begun to surface about his ability to handle the pressure that goes with one of the biggest jobs in the world. Many think he may have lost his touch, especially in selection when he omitted Patrick Bamford and Danny Ings, both of whom have been on fire this season. People are beginning to question if he really has what it takes.
He proved to have all the passion needed to thrive in the role in Russia, however as time goes by, Southgate seems to become more indecisive in his team selection. The team is beginning to show cracks and look vulnerable, however Southgate pushes on, hoping to finally end 55 years of hurt by bringing home another major international title.
Can England handle the pressure? Yes
Will they though, is a very different matter!
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