Euro 2020 ended on Sunday with Italy lifting the trophy at Wembley after beating England 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after additional time. The final month has been filled with highs and lows, triumph and despair; our writers look again on the event.
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Did one of the best crew win Euro 2020?
Gab Marcotti: Over the course of the event, based mostly on what we noticed on the pitch, sure. It does not at all times occur that means — which is why we should not draw grand conclusions from a knockout event — however it does not change the truth that, other than the semifinal towards Spain, Italy outplayed the opposition in each sport. They’ve additionally been an amazing story given the 180-degree flip in strategy and the truth that, essentially, this isn’t a super-gifted aspect. They’re a aspect with the braveness to attempt to do what’s tough … and sometimes, believing is half the battle.
Mark Ogden: Agreed, from begin to end, Italy have been the crew that showcased attacking energy and defensive high quality in equal measure. Roberto Mancini’s crew lacks the aptitude or celebrity participant of a really nice aspect, however they have been tactically astute, organised, decided and, most significantly, skilled sufficient to know the right way to win. England had their greatest main event in 55 years, however they solely really carried out within the 4-0 quarterfinal win towards Ukraine. As soon as the mud settles and emotion fades, individuals will realise that they performed inside themselves within the different video games.
Julien Laurens: Sure. There is a case to be made for Spain enjoying one of the best soccer as they got here so near beating Italy within the semifinals, however general, Mancini’s crew deserves their title as a result of they have been one of the best. They beat Belgium, the No. 1-ranked crew on this planet, they beat Spain and so they beat England at Wembley. They performed attacking soccer, with aptitude, power and a transparent id. Additionally they defended nicely with veterans Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini reminding everybody why Italy has at all times been a rustic of nice defenders. The crew additionally confirmed character and braveness all through the event.
Rob Dawson: Sure. Mancini has reworked Italy from a aspect that did not even make it to the final World Cup to European champions. They got here into Euro 2020 on a formidable profitable run and rode the wave during the event. They defended nicely whereas additionally enjoying some thrilling attacking soccer. They coped with huge accidents whereas additionally beating one of the best: Belgium, Spain and England within the knockout rounds. Lifting the trophy was nicely deserved.
Tom Hamilton: Completely. Italy’s 34-match unbeaten run is outstanding, and Mancini judged his choice and ways completely. They have been incredible all through and have been the higher crew within the last.
James Olley: It’s laborious to argue with a lot of the above. I would enterprise Italy have been lucky to beat Austria within the spherical of 16 and Spain have been the higher crew of their semifinal, however few groups dominate each sport in a event format. Italy finally had a greater mixture of road smarts and intelligence in possession. England ran them shut, however the second-youngest squad at this event lacked composure when 1-0 forward within the last.
Craig Burley breaks down Gareth Southgate’s resolution making throughout England’s defeat within the Euro 2020 last.
What’s your largest ‘what if’ from the event?
Laurens: What if Euro 2020 had really taken place in 2020? It could have been so totally different. It might need been too early for Italy to win. Belgium would have had a totally match Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel and perhaps even Eden Hazard from the beginning. Germany would have been in much more turmoil. We might have seen extra of the 2018 World Cup profitable France crew than the one which turned up in 2021. We might additionally not have seen gamers like Karim Benzema, Pedri, Kalvin Phillips, Luke Shaw and even Aymeric Laporte. However, Virgil van Dijk would have been there like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ansu Fati and Sergio Ramos.
Ogden: What if Gareth Southgate was extra like Pep Guardiola than Jose Mourinho? England’s attacking expertise was under-employed all through the event, with Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish all given fleeting alternatives to make a distinction. It was as if Southgate did not belief his aptitude gamers, preferring to play it protected relatively than push for a win. Had he used Sancho and Rashford 10 minutes earlier within the last towards Italy, their tempo may have triggered a breakthrough. However as a substitute, he stored the handbrake on and settled for penalties. And misplaced.
Olley: It’s laborious not to consider what if England had received … given the 55-year wait. No extra years of damage. A whole shift within the nation’s sporting psyche. Come up, Sir Gareth (though that may nonetheless occur anyway). Mark has a degree that Southgate’s warning made England extra conservative, however that was based in a perception that England nonetheless do not maintain the ball nicely sufficient below the very best stress. The ultimate proved that’s nonetheless the case, so what if England had a Modric, a Frenkie de Jong or a Marco Verratti in midfield? It’s the one sort of participant the nation nonetheless struggles to develop. Maybe 18-year-old Jude Bellingham would be the reply in time.
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Hamilton: It must be round these late substitutions for England within the last. What if Southgate had introduced on Rashford and Sancho a bit earlier, so they may have performed their means in earlier than having to take a penalty? Southgate judged the event brilliantly, however was reluctant to make these attacking substitutions earlier within the match. Who is aware of whether or not it might have made any distinction, however that’ll be a lingering query.
Dawson: What if France hadn’t bottled their round-of-16 sport to lose to Switzerland? Expertise-wise, they’d one of the best squad at Euro 2020 and confirmed in flashes what they have been able to. After recovering from a horrible first 45 minutes towards the Swiss, they have been cruising at 3-1 with 10 minutes to go. Then catastrophe and, finally, an exit on penalties. After qualifying for the knockout rounds as winners from the hardest group, they need to have gotten so much additional than the spherical of 16. Their exit opened up the entire event.
Marcotti: Contemplating Denmark reached the semifinals and have been solely overwhelmed in additional time by England’s doubtful penalty, I am unable to assist however marvel: “What if Christian Eriksen hadn’t been unwell?” Yeah, I do know it is clearly much more necessary that he’s nonetheless with us and I am certain some will argue that the horror he went by means of impressed them … however from a purely footballing perspective, it is one which hangs within the air.
Who was the event’s greatest participant?
Marcotti: Vastly torn right here. Really feel like I must be selecting one of many Italy guys, however this was such a crew efficiency, such a case of the entire being higher than the sum of the components, that I actually wrestle to select one single participant out. Gianluigi Donnarumma, after what he has been by means of at membership stage and leaving AC Milan on a free for PSG this summer season, making all these saves, in video games and penalties. Chiellini’s smiles, management and expertise. Bonucci’s passing, grit and the way in which he received higher because the event went on (and the way in which he shouted “It’ll Rome” into the cameras). Left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, arguably Italy’s greatest participant by means of the quarterfinals earlier than his damage. Jorginho, positively metronomic and ice-cool in midfield, regardless of all of the haters. Federico Chiesa for his scything runs and massive finishes. I will cease now as a result of I form of really feel like mentioning all of them.
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Olley: I am torn like Gab, however I am tempted to go together with Donnarumma. I had Raheem Sterling earmarked for this earlier than the ultimate, however after a wonderful event, Sunday was most likely his worst sport. That was partially because of Bonucci and Chiellini doing what they do, however Donnarumma is such a colossus behind them. Spinazzola would have had a shout had damage not robbed him of an opportunity to hold on his glorious kind, whereas Pedri seems a massively thrilling prospect for Spain.
Laurens: At 34 years outdated, it has been a incredible event for Bonucci. He was clutch with the equalising objective that stored Italy within the last towards England, whereas he additionally scored his penalty in each shootouts within the last and semis. The defender was an exquisite chief alongside Chiellini for an inexperienced Italy aspect and was Mancini’s relay on the pitch. Italy defended so nicely towards Belgium or Spain, principally because of him and wouldn’t have received Euro 2020 with out him.
Ogden: I am with Gab and Juls right here in that this has been a event outlined by defensive gamers. That is fairly uncommon within the trendy sport, the place a lot focus is positioned on the objective scorers and inventive stars. Bonucci and Chiellini have reminded us the entire artwork of nice defending, whereas Luke Shaw has been a revelation at left-back for England. Simon Kjaer’s management and toughness on the again for Denmark stood out, and Spain all of a sudden turned a greater crew as soon as Sergio Busquets returned to the midfield. For England, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have been additionally excellent, and Sterling had a terrific event up till the ultimate, whereas Italy’s Chiesa received higher with every sport. And a shoutout to Goran Pandev who, at 37, made probably the most of each minute of the event with North Macedonia.
Hamilton: Pedri was an absolute pleasure for Spain, as have been Sterling, Shaw, Rice and Phillips for England. Nevertheless it must be one of many winners and (as Gab has finished) you’ll be able to embody most of them, however Spinazzola, Donnarumma and Chiellini have been constantly excellent.
Dawson: I would say Shaw. Stable and versatile defensively, whereas additionally changing into one in every of England’s key attacking threats, the left-back has endured criticism earlier than, however his objective within the last was beautiful.
What was one of the best objective?
Gab & Juls marvel if assists is a good tiebreaker as Cristiano Ronaldo wins the Euro 2020 Golden Boot.
Hamilton: Patrik Schick’s objective from 54 yards for Czech Republic towards Scotland — the longest objective at a Euros or World Cup since 1980 — was outstanding, however I beloved Karim Benzema’s first towards Switzerland and the way in which he managed the ball after which snuck it previous goalkeeper Yann Sommer was Dennis Bergkamp-esque.
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Marcotti: I’ve to go together with Schick, simply because it bordered on the surreal and we’ll see it in objective highlights for years to return. Shoutout to France’s Paul Pogba too for his effort towards Switzerland; we have seen him do it earlier than and we’ll see him do it once more, however that celebration, that sense of drama, makes it stand out to me.
Dawson: Yup, it was Schick: imaginative and prescient, invention and ability all wrapped into one objective.
Olley: I are inclined to choose crew targets, however I do not suppose you’ll be able to look previous Schick. It’s one factor to strive scoring from there, however the method was beautiful. It wasn’t floated goalwards, however bent with a outstanding curve you solely really respect when seeing the angle from behind David Marshall’s objective.
Laurens: Schick’s fantastic strike is true up there as a result of it was a chunk of genius inspiration. Not far beneath although is Luka Modric’s incredible shot with the surface of his proper foot towards Scotland. A point out as nicely for Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne vs. Belgium and Pogba vs. Switzerland. And since we’re purists at ESPN, we additionally want to offer some like to lovely assists: De Bruyne’s for Belgium towards Denmark, Joakim Maehle’s for Denmark towards Czech Republic, Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko towards Sweden, or Pogba’s and Harry Kane’s secondary assists towards Italy and Denmark.
Ogden: I used to be at Hampden Park for Modric’s beautiful objective and it was an actual “out of your seat” second, however nothing tops Cristiano Ronaldo’s objective in Portugal’s 4-2 defeat towards Germany. At 36 years outdated, with virtually 20 years of elite soccer in his legs, he was nonetheless in a position to head away a Germany nook and dash 90 yards to attain a breakaway objective 14.2 seconds after making his clearance. If any objective may sum up Ronaldo’s willpower and starvation, it was that one. And he finally completed because the event’s Golden Boot winner.
Derek Rae explains that Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest and collapse throughout Denmark’s sport towards Finland was his hardest problem in broadcasting.
What was probably the most memorable second?
Marcotti: There’s one which overshadows the whole lot, as a result of it goes past sport: seeing the photograph of Eriksen on the stretcher after his collapse, together with his hand up by his head. That advised you that he was nonetheless with us in that second. Till that time, all we may do is pray. For me, personally, it was seeing the top of Italy’s crew delegation, Gianluca Vialli, standing quietly by himself in the midst of the pitch for a minute earlier than the ultimate kicked off, soaking all of it in. After what he is been by means of in a battle with pancreatic most cancers, merely having the ability to personally witness that at Wembley was enormous.
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Ogden: Sorry to place a dampener on what ended up being a terrific event, however the prematch scenes at Wembley on Sunday will stain the reminiscence of Euro 2020. It was English soccer at its worst and a reminder that, it doesn’t matter what progress is made on the pitch by the crew, the identical senseless idiots who’ve embarrassed England at World Cups and Euros for many years proceed to behave and act like an undesirable visitor at a celebration. The fan dysfunction and violence performed out on TV screens throughout the globe and can most likely kill any hopes of a joint British and Irish bid to host the 2030 World Cup. Why would any nation vote to host it in a rustic the place followers are in a position to storm the gates to the stadium hours earlier than a serious last?
Olley: Mark is true in that there shall be recriminations for these unedifying scenes at Wembley. An fool minority — however one maybe greater than many would care to confess — sought to undermine what had hitherto been a rustic binding collectively after widening divisions of the previous few years. Because the broken obstacles and turnstiles are repaired, the damaged glass cleared away, it’s unhappy to really feel a few of that progress has been undone. Away from all that, Denmark gamers applauding England taking a knee was a heartwarming second, and I can solely echo Gab’s phrases on Eriksen.
Laurens: The shock and disappointment on the day of Eriksen’s collapse will stick with us ceaselessly, however to see Denmark thrashing Russia 4-1 just a few days later to undergo to the spherical of 16 was unimaginable. Bukayo Saka’s tears within the last after lacking the final penalty for England won’t ever be forgotten. Spain vs. Italy within the semifinals was the sport of the event. And final however not least, Adrien Rabiot’s mom telling Kylian Mbappe’s father to kind his son out as a result of he was too boastful after his penalty miss for France towards Switzerland was one thing else.
Dawson: Switzerland’s comeback towards France. Soccer is at its greatest when it is inexplicable, and that was proper up there.
Hamilton: Denmark’s 4-1 win over Russia was an unimaginable match and, after the whole lot they’d been by means of, this was a second of heartwarming unity. The environment earlier than Scotland vs. Czech Republic with the “Sure sir, I can Boogie!” was additionally superb. There have been solely 9,000 or so followers in Hampden Park, however they made some critical noise.
After I look again at Euro 2020, I’ll take into consideration …
Laurens: Italy’s resurrection; England’s curse; Pedri’s expertise; Benzema’s comeback; Germany coach Joachim Low’s demise; Denmark’s run to the semifinals; France’s vanity; Frank de Boer’s failure for Netherlands; the unfair format; the COVID-19 restrictions; Schick’s objective; Bonucci’s/Chiellini’s defending; goalkeeper Martin Dubravka’s personal objective for Slovakia towards Spain; and Rabiot’s mom, in fact.
Ogden: Chiellini’s smile and apparent delight at captaining Italy to glory; the enjoyment of noisy stadiums once more within the wake of the pandemic; the penalty misses (Gareth Bale, Alvaro Morata, Saka, Sancho, Rashford); the dearth of a central hub and environment that comes with one host nation; the lots of Scotland followers in London forward of the group sport towards England at Wembley. And the ultimate airing of “Soccer’s Coming Dwelling” from the Euro ’96 anthem “Three Lions” — absolutely, it must be retired now?! Everyone seems to be utilizing it to mock England (see Bonucci’s “It is coming to Rome” celebration), so let’s put that one again within the field and look to the long run as a substitute.
Olley: The noise. It has been so lengthy with out crowds however whatever the pandemic, I’ve by no means heard Wembley louder than in these video games towards Germany, Denmark and Italy. The Germany sport felt like an actual breakthrough for England, lastly beating an elite nation — albeit not the strongest incarnation — in a event knockout sport. And though I am certain this may not win me any reputation contests, I really fairly preferred U2’s official tune.
Hamilton: The energy and unity of the Denmark crew. The way in which they rallied round Eriksen when he lay receiving remedy on the Copenhagen pitch, after which performed on to a 1-0 defeat towards Finland was unimaginable. Their run to the semifinals was deserved, so it’s important to give credit score and admiration to that fantastic group of gamers and their sensible supervisor, Kasper Hjulmand.
Dawson: England. Successful a serious event has appeared so distant for therefore a few years, however Southgate and his gamers have given supporters hope that it’s doable. It might end up that Euro 2020 was their greatest probability, however for now, the build-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar shall be crammed with optimism. Southgate deserves nice credit score for what he has been in a position to obtain, even when he got here up simply brief this time.
Marcotti: Other than the incidents, targets and moments, I will take into consideration how hopefully this alerts soccer’s (and the world’s) gradual motion again to normality. And the way this event unfolded with comparatively little acrimony and controversy, with a profitable aspect that took the sport to the opposition and believed. It felt proper that positivity must be rewarded.