With the 2020 European Championships now underway, England’s chances of success have become the hot topic of discussion.
The Three Lions haven’t won an international tournament since 1966, and English supporters are hoping that the current crop of players can finally end their trophy drought.
While there’s a collective desire among English fans for the selected squad to succeed, Gareth Southgate’s 26-man team has divided opinions.
So, let’s consider whether the England manager made the right decisions.
His Selections Give England a Chance of Success
Before the 2020 Euros began, English supporters were optimistic about their chances with the next generation of players.
The Three Lions got off to the perfect start to their European Championship campaign, defeating Croatia 1-0 following Raheem Sterling’s well-placed second-half finish.
Although Southgate’s team didn’t dominate Zlatko Dalic’s side, they won convincingly, nullifying the threat of Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric.
Historically, England have started slowly at European Championships, meaning that a composed victory over Croatia is a welcome result for supporters.
At Euro 2016, England endured a torrid time in France.
Roy Hodgson’s team suffered an opening-match draw to Russia, who equalized in the 92nd minute through VasiliBerezutski.
The Three Lions followed that with a one-goal win over Wales before playing out a goalless draw with Slovakia in their final Group B match.
In the last 16, England famously lost 2-1 to Iceland, and Hodgson responded by resigning from his position.
Despite the failures of five years ago, Southgate has instilled a new sense of belief in the national side, and England are +500 in online sports betting to win Euro 2020, as of June 15th.
A Few Players Will Feel Hard Done By
Initially, Southgate named a 33-man preliminary squad before later cutting seven players.
Of those who missed out, a couple may feel like they should have been representing their country this summer.
England’s manager selected four right-backs in his 26-man roster, although the Three Lions lost Trent Alexander-Arnold through injury.
In his place, Brighton’s Ben White made the squad. Because of the Liverpool full-back's offensive prowess and delivery into the box, James Ward-Prowse was perhaps the natural replacement, but Southgate overlooked him.
In the 2020-21 Premier League season, Ward-Prowse scored eight goals and assisted another seven for Southampton, according to Transfermarkt.
Not only that, but he also started all 38 top-flight games for the Saints, which highlights his fitness and physical conditioning.
Along with Ward-Prowse, Jesse Lingard may also have hoped that he’d make the final squad.
After ending last season with nine goals and five assists in 16 Premier League appearances, the 28-year-old statistically enjoyed a better season than many of the players who made the roster, including Phil Foden.
The Manchester City playmaker registered the same return as Lingard, but he played ten matches more than the West Ham loanee.
It’s Time to Support and Not Debate
Southgate selected a group of players that he believes in, which should be enough for England supporters.
Although a few handy options missed out, the 26-man squad has the talent to reach the latter stages of the European Championships and, perhaps, go all the way.
Results will determine whether Southgate made the right calls, but the victory over Croatia shows that, so far, he’s got it right.
This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago