The dust has settled following the crunch EURO cup final which saw Malta at a standstill as Italy and England battled it out in a grand ending. The anticipation and tension was in full-swing as the match progressed to a nail-biting penalty shoot-out which saw Italy come out on top. Following the match, we have experienced the usual banter between the Italian and the English fans based in Malta. In this article, we shall be discussing why this final was a tough pill to swallow for many English fans.
The first final in fifty-five years
Reaching the final of such a competition was a remarkable feat for the English national team. The last time that the English national team reached a final was in 1966, where they won the World Cup. Following that period, the English fans endured some very tough times. Although they had some fantastic players over the years, including the likes of Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Owen and Rooney, they never managed to achieve exceptional results in the big national stages. Having reached the final after so many years and with a decent team, many truly believed that this time it was really coming home.
A compact team
Apart from reaching the final, the England national team holds an exciting team of young prospects, with a certain degree of defensive discipline, usually synonymous with a winning Italian side. During the course of the competition, the English national team only conceded two goals, which is quite a remarkable figure. The two goals conceded were from a free-kick and corner which means that the English never conceded in open play throughout the competition.
In view of the dominance displayed across the different encounters, there were high expectations surrounding this tournament. The media of England raised expectations with many outlets dubbing their country for glory. The betting odds were also in favour of England, as they implied that the English will get past the Italians. Expectations also increased significantly at the start of the match, as England came out shooting on all cylinders and scored in the second minute, dominating from the offset. High profile figures in England also expressed their support for the English national team, with Boris Johnson mentioning an extra bank holiday if England win and the queen delivering a letter to the head coach, Gareth Southgate.
Although they left the pitch with the runners’-up medal, this England team has built solid foundations for the future. With the World Cup taking place in the coming year, they are well-positioned to mount a formidable challenge.