Euro 2020 team guide: England profile
With the success of reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals still fresh in the memory for many fans, England will be hoping to go one better at Euro 2020.
The Three Lions do not boast the best record in the competition and injuries to key players have impacted manager Gareth Southgate’s preparations.
But they still have one of the strongest squads in the tournament.
As a result, anything less than an appearance in the semis will most likely be deemed a failure this summer.
England have historically struggled to produce their best form at international tournaments and this has certainly been the case in the Euros, where they have only progressed beyond the quarter-finals once since 1980.
If the Three Lions want to improve on that record they will have to navigate their way out of a tricky Group D first.
Southgate’s men open against a strong Croatia side, who agonisingly put paid to their World Cup dreams three years ago, before taking on old rivals Scotland and concluding the group stage against the Czech Republic.
Finishing top would mean they will take on the runners-up of Group F, likely to be one of Portugal, Germany or France — a daunting potential trio of opponents.
It will not be easy but England will be boosted by home advantage.
They will be at Wembley for all three of their group games and their last-16 tie should they top the group, while a partisan home crowd for the semi-final and final could be a key factor.
How they qualified
As is frequently the case for England, qualification for the finals was rather straightforward.
They finished top of Group A with seven wins from eight matches, a shock 2-1 defeat away to the Czech Republic representing the only blemish on their impressive record.
Southgate’s troops also averaged a standout 4.6 goals per game in those eight fixtures, while conceding just six times across the campaign.
It perhaps was not the toughest of qualifying groups, with relative minnows Kosovo, Bulgaria and Montenegro making up the remaining participants, yet the Three Lions still overcame them in emphatic fashion.
With so many top quality players to choose from, Southgate has a number of different ways he could set his side up throughout the tournament.
We may even see him alter his set-up from game to game, depending on the strength of the opposition.
Yet his go-to formation has tended to be a 3-4-3 and we can probably expect to see England predominantly operate with that system.
It provides plenty of defensive solidity thanks to the back three but also allows the dangerous wing-backs — of which England have plenty — the licence to drive forward and influence play inside the final third.
The midfield consists of players who bring both security but also ball progression through the central areas, while several wide attacking options can support Harry Kane through the middle.
Predicted line-up: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; James, Rice, Mount, Shaw; Foden, Kane, Sterling.
Star man: Harry Kane
Even by his lofty standards, it was some season for Kane, who scored 23 Premier League goals and secured the third Golden Boot of his career.
The wantaway Tottenham star, 27, also landed the division’s playmaker award for the most assists after registering a total of 14.
His status as the top flight’s most dangerous attacker is reaffirmed by the fact he also had the highest combined non-penalty expected goal and expected assist (npxG+xA) total across the division last season, with 24.8 in 2020-21.
The way in which he has adapted to become a creator as well as a scorer will add another dimension to England’s attack.
Up-and-comer: Mason Mount
Mason Mount’s season finished with a bang as he helped Chelsea defeat Manchester City 1-0 to lift the Champions League in Porto.
That should act as the perfect springboard for the 22-year-old to enjoy a strong Euro 2020 — as will the fact he was one of the best attackers in the Premier League in 2020-21.
Impressively, only Kevin De Bruyne (6.04), Jack Grealish (6.18) and Hakim Ziyech (5.38) averaged more shot-creating actions than his 5.08 per 90 minutes in England’s top tier.
The jury remained out on the youngster ahead of the last campaign but his performances in 2020-21 silenced most of his doubters.
Now Mount is primed to be one of England’s key men at Euro 2020.
The boss: Gareth Southgate
Despite his relative success in leading England to the semi-finals of the last World Cup, Southgate still has a lot to prove.
Decisions on the likes of the inclusion of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was injured on Wednesday night, were cross-examined to the nth degree, bringing into question the nation’s faith in the England boss.
Furthermore, with such a talented group at his disposal, anything less than progression to the latter stages will be deemed as a disappointment, so in that sense the pressure is well and truly on.
But football is a game of fine margins and if England reach another semi-final — and perhaps go a step further by lifting the trophy — he will have established himself as one of the nation's all-time great managers.
All information correct as of midday, June 3, 2021