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Fail to prepare, prepare to fail: All eyes on Qatar 2022

With Qatar getting closer, we look back at the euro’s and how you can be at England’s last remaining qualifiers at Wembley.

The Summer of 21

The Summer of 2021 galvanized the entire nation as England reached their first major finals in 55 years. An unbeaten run in the group stages sparked hopes of England fans up and down the country. However, these hopes were somewhat in doubt with the three lions facing Germany in the round of 16. After a tense first half neither side managed to break the dead lock. It was a similar story throughout the second half, with both teams failing to convert golden opportunities and penalties were looming.

After the heartbreak of Euro 96, which Southgate can only know too well, penalties were not an option for his side. A rampant England were knocking on the German’s door. This pressure paid off as a cool, calm and collected Raheem Sterling slotted in a goal that would send the country into pandemonium. After a quiet domestic season with Manchester City, Raheem silenced his critics. Shortly after, Harry Kane put the final nail in the coffin by firing home for England’s second. Wembley was rocking like never before, after this emphatic win the nation started to believe. With the thrashing of Sweden and a nervy win over a disciplined Denmark, the stage was set for England to battle it out for European supremacy against Italy. Once again, our old foe penalties came back to haunt us in the final, but what a journey it was. With a strong squad, young players emerging and players battling on the pitch for each other, this is only the beginning of something special.

Qatar 2022 World cup qualifying campaign

When you think of the World cup, many imagine watching football in the blistering heat at the height of summer. This will not be the case for the 2022 World Cup, instead we will be watching in the bitter winter weather. Commencing on the November 21st and coming to a climax on December 18th, will we be in for an early Christmas present? Our qualifiers got off to an explosive start in March, before the Euros with wins over San Marino, Albania and Poland. With a newfound belief after the Euros, England were adamant to put their defeat in the final to Italy behind them and qualify strongly for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

September swiftly rolled around, the stage was set in a packed out Puskas Arena in Budapest for England to take on Hungary. After a tame first half, England approached the second half in bullish form and dispatched Hungary, beating them 4-0. This score line was mirrored only 3 days later at the home of football, Wembley as England got the better of Andorra. To end September’s round of fixtures was a tough game in Warsaw against an unpredictable Poland side. The game started slowly with all the action to come late on. Harry Kane opened the scoring with a marvellous strike, swerving past a helpless Szczesny in the Poland goal. Much to England’s surprise, Poland struck a late equalizer in the dying seconds of the game. Despite this result, England remain top of the group.

England have four World cup qualifier fixtures left. The two that stick out are their games at Wembley. England face Hungary on October 12th and then after that play Albania on November 12th. Currently, England are top of the group with Albania behind them in second, this is fixture that many will not want to miss.

England Looking to the future in more ways than one

England will obviously be looking to progress to the World Cup, in which I believe they comfortably will, but England are also looking to the future with a variety of youngsters bursting onto the international scene as well as being vital assets to their clubs. It is many teenagers dream to be able to play professional football for club and country. This dream came true for England and Dortmund rising star, Jude Bellingham. Having caught the eye at Birmingham City, he got his move to the Bundesliga where he is currently thriving. With the move to the German side, it enhanced his chances of playing for the national team. Jude has now become the youngest ever player to appear at a European championship as he came on in the 82nd minute in England’s 1-0 victory over Croatia.

Another young player, who seems like he’s been around for ages is Manchester City starlet Phil Foden. After being in the squad for the Euros, Foden is most definitely going to be on the plane to Qatar in 2022. His pace, trickery and footballing brain make him look like he’s a veteran of the game but only being 21, his best years are ahead of him for sure. As we turn our attention to the red side of Manchester, there is a young man who has already proven he could be one of the sharpest shooters in the Premier League, he goes by the name of Mason Greenwood. Greenwood has conjured up 20 goals in 70 appearances for Manchester United, not bad for a 19-year-old, right? Mason unfortunately had to withdraw from the Euros squad but I’m sure he will be in Southgate’s plans come the World Cup.

No Place like home

The first Wembley Stadium was opened in 1923, with the new Wembley built in 2007. To this day the stadium still holds a special feeling for everyone that plays, spectates or even passes by there. Some massive fixtures are played there, season after season such as the FA cup Final, Carabao Cup Final and it will play host to the Champions League final in 2024. As Wembley is a multi-purpose venue, we are looking forward to putting on concerts there.

Availability for hospitality for concerts at Wembley is extremely difficult to find, but please enquire below for the possibility of Attending a concert at Wembley.

Ed Sheeran | Wembley | 1st July

Westlife | Wembley | 6th August

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UEFA Nations League Updated

England Football

UEFA Nations League update

England Football News – Introduction

This article will round up the latest England football news from the recent International Break.

3 games would finish Gareth Southgate’s and England’s 2020. A warmup game against the Republic of Ireland followed by 2 key UEFA Nations League fixtures away to Belgium, the world’s No1 ranked team and then back to the ‘Home of England Football’ for Iceland. Victory against Belgium in Leuven would offer the chance to top the group, however with a loss and other negative results then it would be the end of the road for the Three Lions.

Highlights of the England v Republic of Ireland fixture – Friendly

For the return to International duty Southgate selected an experimental England team to play the Republic of Ireland on Friday night.

England created early chances from set pieces with towering defenders Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings providing the attempts.

England’s opener came from a Mason Mount corner. Initially headed away by the defence, the ball found its way out to Harry Winks on the edge of the box. After setting the ball for a cross Winks delivered brilliantly towards the back post where his name sake Harry Maguire won his header angling the ball past the outstretched Irish Randolph’s hand and into the right hand corner of the net.

It was the first spell of mini pressure, bringing the England skipper his goal and reprieve after a troubling 6 months of form for club and country. The goal, was a result of a power struggle against his opposite number, Irish centre back Shane Duffy. Maguire, with his aerial prowess constantly caused the Irish defence problems throughout the night, reminding a lot of his doubters why he is one of Southgate’s go to defenders.

England’s second goal came from a similar routine to the first. A Mason Mount corner was parried out to the edge of the box only to be swung in again by Winks. This time however the ball fell to Jack Grealish who released Jadon Sancho down the left flank. Sancho with his trademark quick feet was able to cut back onto his right foot and bend the ball through the legs of the defender and past the outstretched Randolph into the bottom left corner. A confident finish from Sancho who has not been at his best in the early rounds of the Bundesliga.

Second Half

In the second half Grealish continued to pull the strings in the midfield, drifting into space and unleashing England’s runners. Grealish, Mings, and Bukayo Saka combined well down the left-hand side providing a regular supply of chances to Dominic Calvert-Lewin to attack. It was the combination of Mings to Saka which brought about England’s third goal. Saka picking up the loose ball in midfield had plenty of work to do, but with his electric pace and quick feet he drew the foul, going to ground in the opposition box. The Spanish referee was quick to point to the penalty spot and Dominic Calvert-Lewin stepped up.

Having already netted 12 goals for club and country this season he smashed the ball top left leaving Randolph with zero opportunity, a very confident finish. Calvert-Lewin’s current form is great news for England and a genuine option for Gareth Southgate when Kane needs to be rested.

3-0 down and Ireland went missing in the last quarter of the match, Sancho and Saka beating players, finding the space to cross when they attacked with intent. England were far from clinical. With the amount of chances on offer, the game should have finished with a 5-0 or 6-0 score line. England were in total control after the first goal went in, there certainly will be tougher tests in the games to come.

Highlights of the England v Belgium fixture – UEFA Nations League

The heroics at ‘The home of England football’ 2 weeks earlier were not to be repeated at the King Power Stadium, Leuven. England’s chances of reaching the UEFA Nations League Finals were dashed by defeat to Belgium.

Southgate’s men were left frustrated as they were arguably the livelier team throughout. However, 2 early goals from Everton’s Youri Tielemans (10) and Napoli’s Dries Mertens (24) put England on the backfoot and despite Harry Kane’s relentless effort throughout the night, England lacked the cutting edge to bring them back into the game. This is a theme that needs addressing quickly by England’s coaching staff!

Belgium’s first goal came within 10 minutes with a twenty-yard shot deflecting off England’s defender Tyrone Mings. The ball cannoned onto the post and into the net, leaving Jordan Pickford no chance. Pickford got his fingers to the ball but only succeeded in pushing the powerful strike onto the post and into the goal.

Controversy surrounded Belgium’s second as it initially appeared that Declan Rice fouled Kevin De Bruyne on the edge of the box. However, in slow motion (unfortunately a tool not afforded to the referee) it was clear to see that Rice had won the ball and it was De Bruyne who kicked the defensive midfielder. Where’s VAR when you need it?

Both Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens stood over the freekick but it was Mertens who stepped up and whipped the ball at pace over the wall and past another full-length dive from Jordan Pickford.

Defeat for Southgate’s men and a win elsewhere for Denmark means England have failed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League Finals.

Its worth mentioning the one positive throughout the last 2 rounds of fixtures, which has been the performances of Aston Villas maverick midfielder, Jack Grealish. England have been missing their creative players through injury, however Grealish has filled those shoes and more. Jack has emerged as the catalyst for anything positive, the driving force behind England’s attacking play. Southgate will be pleased he now has an alternative option to a front three of Sterling, Rashford and Kane.

Highlights of the England v Iceland fixture – UEFA Nations League

After the disappointment of missing out in the UEFA Nations League the England football team had a point to prove against Iceland. Back at Wembley the team wanted a positive result to end the year on a high. Southgate once again made changes to the starting 11 which included a long awaited start for Manchester City’s Phil Foden.

In the 19th minute Declan Rice scored his and England’s first goal. A superb header from a curling freekick from Foden to open England’s account. Rice’s perfectly timed run allowed him to beat his man to the ball and a glancing header found its way into the net. With the likes of Harry Kane and Eric Dier in the box you could forgive Iceland for overlooking Rice at the front post.

Once the first goal was scored it was as if England had flicked a switch, the tempo of their passing and movement picked up and Iceland were under constant pressure. It was only a matter of 4 minutes to wait for England’s second. With Jack Grealish pulling the strings in the midfield England found space down the left-hand side. Saka’s cross found Mason Mount who took the opportunity well with his left, an accomplished finish.

Second Half

For the opening 30 minutes of the second half Iceland were able to keep England’s advances at bay. It was a 79th minute red card which opened up the game. As the legs of the Iceland players began to tire, Saevarsson the Icelandic centre back pulled on the arm of Saka who went to ground. It was Saevarsson ‘s second offence of the evening and he received his marching orders. What was an already tough task with 11 players, just became a whole lot more difficult.

Foden dictated play in the midfield taking full advantage of the extra space afforded to England, creating chances freely. Southgate brought Jadon Sancho into the game combining with Foden for his first for England and teams third on the night.

England’s fourth was again scored by Foden. If his first was a technical finish, then this was clinical. A great strike, 30 yards out finding the bottom left-hand corner, no chance to Iceland’s goalkeeper.

4-0 on the night was a great result for a inexperienced England team. The youngsters Rice, Sancho, Foden and Grealish were front and centre throughout the game in great performance from England. All be it against a poor Iceland team.

England Football news – Conclusion

In conclusion to this latest round up of England Football News – It feels like every time we speak about England football there are positives but there are also plenty of question marks raised. The success of this generation and ultimately Gareth Southgate’s tenure will be judged on their silverware which currently sits empty. Southgate has plenty of talent at his disposal, it is now about finding the best formation and getting the best out of this England football team.

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England Football News – UEFA Nations League and Euro 2020

England Football

England Football News 

Same old England football? Is Gareth Southgate moving the team forward? Are England’s football team stalling? All valid questions which appeared in the press after England’s latest round of UEFA Nations League fixtures. A mixed bag of results which saw Southgate’s men open with a free flowing 3-0 win over Wales. They came from behind to grind out a 2-1 win over Belgium, the No1 ranked team in the World, but then disappointingly slipped up against Denmark, losing 0-1.

UEFA EURO 2020 – The Groups have been Determined

The count down to the UEFA EURO 2020 is on.

Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic the EURO’s have been moved to the summer of 2021. The format will remain the same, featuring 24 teams within 6 groups. The top 2 teams in each group, plus the four best third place sides will proceed to the last 16. Knock out football will then see the best teams through to the Quarters, Semi’s. The Final awaits for the Nations lucky enough to make it.

England are in Group D alongside Scotland, Croatia and the Czech Republic. England v Scotland is a tasty affair and will be greatly appreciated by the neutral.

UEFA Nations League November Internationals

Gareth Southgate and England football head to Brussels and The King Baudouin Stadium on the 15th November. They will require all three points as they attempt to top the group. No easy feat as Belgium have a formidable record on home turf. Belgium will also be keen to make amends for the loss in London.

England’s second match in the International window is at home to Iceland on the 18th November. England must learn from their mistakes this week against Denmark as history has a horrible way of repeating itself. Remember when Iceland fought back from 1 nil down to win 2-1 in their last trip to Wembley. A famous victory in the 2016 UEFA European Championship for the International minnows!

England v Wales – Wembley Friendly

This was only the second friendly between England and Wales since the 19th century. The two nations have regularly met competitively in the UEFA EURO’s and FIFA World Cup, England winning all 5 of their past meetings. This friendly would allow both teams to sharpen up before the upcoming rounds of UEFA Nations League fixtures.
A derby match is always an exciting affair and Thursday night certainly lived up to expectation.

England and Dominic Calvert-Lewin started the brighter, his incessant running continued throughout the night, but it was his early movement in behind the Welsh defence showing a willingness to run and in doing so setting a dynamic tone for Southgate’s experimental side.

England’s opener came 25 minutes in when Calvert-Lewin on debut combined with Jack Grealish. Attacking from the right hand side Grealish (also on debut) created enough space against two defenders to whip in a cross finding the head of Calvert-Lewin, who making a late run into the box found space in between two defenders to head powerfully into the back of the net.

It was another cross from the right but this time from a freekick that lead to England’s second. Kieran Trippier sent the ball deep towards the far post from a long free kick inviting Wolves’ Conor Cody, another debutant on the night to confidently side foot the ball home. The look of pure joy on his face emphasizing his passion to be playing for the Three Lions. Wales would have been disappointed to have conceded twice from crosses, but take nothing away from Trippier and Cody who combined well for the goal and in defence throughout the night.

The final nail in the coffin came in the 62nd minute from yet another set piece, Tyrone Mings winning his header on the back post to set up Danny Ings for a fabulous overhead kick finding the top corner. Ings, showed a poacher’s instinct, agility, and skill to take a tough opportunity and move England out of reach.

There could have easily been more scored in the dying moments if it were not for Wales’ goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey who pulled of a sequence of fabulous saves from close range. Southgate after the match confirmed “The players did very well, its not easy for a new team to come together with not a lot of experience around it.”

England v Belgium – UEFA Nations League

After a solid opening performance, it was strangely England’s manager Gareth Southgate who drew criticism before the first of two UEFA Nations League ties. His decision to leave out Jack Grealish from his starting eleven after an excellent performance against Wales was poorly received by the English press. England would need to put any negativity aside as Belgium the No1 ranked Nation arrived at Wembley, full of confidence from not losing a competitive game of football since November 2018.

Yannick Carrasco opened proceedings with a classy finish, sweeping home a cross only for the goal to be disallowed. The linesman raised his flag for offside, all be it extremely late and the scores reverted to 0-0. Belgium did not have to wait long for their next opportunity as Romelu Lakaku who was all over England’s defenders in the first 45 minutes powered into the box only to be brought down by Eric Dier. The penalty awarded, Lukaku stepped up and rocketed the ball into the bottom left past a despairing Jordan Pickford.

In the last quarter of the first half England became sloppy, losing much of the authority they began the game with and could have easily slipped further behind but for some sharp saves by Pickford. Ironically, it was in fact a sloppy piece of defending at the other end which led to England’s equalizer. Thomas Meunier reached out and pulled Jordan Henderson to the ground when inside the box from a corner. Not a huge amount of contact but enough for referee Tobias Stieler to award a penalty. Marcus Rashford stepped up and belted the ball into the top left-hand corner dragging England back onto level terms with 7 minutes left of the half.

The second half deadlock was broken in the 63rd minute when Trent Alexander-Arnold found Kieran Trippier with a cross down the left flank, Trippier was able to head the ball back towards the top left corner of the box towards Mason Mount who’s shot via a rather large deflection off Toby Alderweireld looped over Simon Mignolet and in. It was a stroke of fortune as Mount had been playing down the right all evening making little impact, but on his first jaunt over to the left found the back of the net.

Belgium and England both missed chances throughout the final 20 minutes, the game ending 2-1 England. All things considered, a fantastic result for a much-changed England football team.

England v Denmark – UEFA Nations League

England buoyed by the victory over Belgium came into the fixture confident that they could stretch their lead at the top of the League A Group 2 table. However, in the early exchanges it was Denmark who looked more confident in possession dictating play. England lacked any rhythm which arguably, was once again down to changes in personnel forced upon Southgate through injury and availability issues.

England’s attackers were given nothing to work with, being forced to take shots from distance as they were unable to breakdown a staunch Danish defence. England had lost only 2 of their previous 49 matches at Wembley but through defensive frailty that record was soon to be broken.
Christian Eriksen on his 100th outing for Denmark scored a penalty. An incident which was quickly followed by a second yellow for Harry Maguire. A goal and a man down within the space of 5 minutes left the England football team chasing the game.

The slew of changes in the second half from Gareth Southgate were unable to unpick the Danish defence. The game finishing England 0-1 Denmark.
Southgate admitted after the match that even though the result was frustrating “England almost carried out the perfect plan with 10 men and created some good opportunities. I couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve done.”

England Football News Conclusion

A lack of discipline, injuries, and Covid-19 created problems for Southgate and England Football on and off the pitch. Victory in their opener against Wales showed the wealth of reserves England can draw from and the result against Belgium, however far from perfect, may have been a sign that England were maturing and learning to win ugly. It was unfortunate then the manor of defeat to Denmark and Southgate and his staff have a lot of work that needs to be done to top the group.

Declan Rice, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish are the players to have shone throughout the three matches. The trio have certainly raised themselves up the pegging order. Expect to see these young Lions in England’s future.