There’s more chance now than at any other point during our 55 years of hurt. Wednesday night’s victory over Denmark saw England reach their first major footballing final since 1966.
It was a tense game and England fell behind to a stunning Denmark free kick. In previous years England would have crumbled going a goal behind in such a big game, but Gareth Southgate’s team rallied and got back in to the game when a Bakuyo Saka cross forced an own goal and levelled the scores.
While it was a tense game England actually dominated possession and made the better chances. It was only the inspired form of Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel that took the game to extra time. That said at the other end Jordan Pickford did make a couple of good saves to keep the Danes at bay.
With the game now in extra time England won a penalty through the impressive Raheem Sterling who has been one of the players of the tournament. How much of a penalty it was depends on if you are English or not, but after a VAR check the spot kick was awarded.
Captain Harry Kane stepped up, and unlike him he missed, the penalty saved by the excellent Schmeichel. Luckily Kane reacted quickest to the rebound and tucked away what turned out to be the winner.
Denmark can consider themselves unfortunate and can hold their heads high. The tournament started in horrible fashion for them with Christian Eriksen collapsing in their opening game against Finland. Since then they did their team mate and their country proud by reaching the semi-final, their biggest achievement since winning the European Championship as a wildcard entry in 1992.
Gareth Southgate had previously matched the best performance of an England team in a tournament since the 1966 World Cup win by reaching the semi final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia but has now gone one better.
He has done this by fostering a good atmosphere amongst the players, and between the players, fans and media, something supposed better managers with better players at their disposal could not do.
Southgate also has a game plan. He doesn’t pander to egos or shoehorn in the big names out of position just to accommodate them. Many good players are finding themselves on the bench and they’re happy with that. Crucially he has built the best defence in the tournament, conceding just one goal in six matches, and that was a goal of the tournament contender.
On to Italy now who will definitely be England’s toughest test so far. They saw off Spain in a semi-final penalty shootout on Tuesday and are currently unbeaten in 33 games. Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, like Southgate, has built a solid defence and has some exciting attacking talent at his disposal.
If England don’t win on Sunday night there is still plenty to be proud of. England are progressing nicely with a World Cup semi-final, Nations League semi-final and European Championship final to their name in the last 4 years and we will be nicely set up for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
And if we do win football will have finally come home.