Euro 2020 preview, Group D – England: Alan Shearer gives us his thoughts on the Three Lions
Our Matchday Squad will cover every nation at the Euros
For Euro 2020, we’ve assembled 24 expert journalists to give you the latest insight and tips on every team throughout the tournament.
Here, England legend Alan Shearer gives us his take on Gareth Southgate’s men…
Give us an overview of your team’s chances at Euro 2020
For the first time in a number of years, there is now genuine expectation of success for England at a major tournament. We reached the semi-finals in Russia at the 2018 World Cup, partly due to some luck with more favourable fixtures, and the younger players are now hitting new heights for their clubs.
Gareth Southgate has some incredibly talented young stars who now have experience of playing at the highest level, domestically and in Europe. There is the perfect mix of what is needed to succeed at a major tournament at Southgate’s disposal and I am personally very confident that England will give a good account of themselves.
However, as with any tournament, you need a lot to fall your way and no success is ever guaranteed. We should be able to negotiate our way out of the group stage and then anybody can go all the way and win it.
What would you say are your team’s major strengths?
England’s attack is definitely their major strength. In Harry Kane, they have one of the best strikers in world football who is going into the tournament off the back of another superb season personally. He is looking as good as he ever has and has added an extra dimension to his game in the last twelve months too with all the assists that he has got.
Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, the talent England have behind Kane is incredible. All of those players are now top players, playing for huge clubs who are reaching the final stages of European competitions. They will frighten any opposition’s defence and, on their day, can be truly unplayable. There should be plenty of excitement and goals in all of the England games this summer.
And any weaknesses?
If there is a weakness to be exposed in this England team in the Euros, it will be found down the middle defensively. There are concerns over the fitness of Harry Maguire and if either he or John Stones are missing for a game then it will be very concerning for Gareth Southgate.
Jordan Pickford has done well as England’s goalkeeper in the past but he has not had a great season at Everton. He has made too many mistakes and any errors at the Euros could cost England, particularly if one comes in a knockout game. He looks set to start and Gareth will need him to deliver on the faith he has shown him.
Give us the lowdown on your team’s star player?
If England are going to do well, then Harry Kane will have to score goals. Whilst this season didn’t go as well as he would have liked for Tottenham and we may see him make a move in the transfer window, it was still a very productive season for him personally.
He has won the Golden Boot in the Premier League three times now and also won it back at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and every side will fear him. He is so clinical.
It is now just about his finishing though. We have seen him link-up magnificently with Son Heung-min at Tottenham and the way he drops deep and can pick a pass through will be lethal considering the talent and pace around him in the England squad. If England make it to the semi-finals, or even the final, I will expect Kane to be right up the top of the goalscoring charts and in the race for the Golden Boot once again.
And tell us about a player from your team who could be a breakthrough star at this tournament?
We all know about Phil Foden but he has been exceptional this season for Manchester City and this summer can be his moment to shine on the international stage.
He has stepped up his game this season thanks to the opportunity to play more and it says everything about him that Pep Guardiola’s side have not missed David Silva. That shows the level that Foden has been performing to.
How far do you think your team can go in this tournament?
I am hopeful that England can reach the semi-finals at Euro 2020, as they did back at the last World Cup. Once you reach that point then anything can happen and you can easily go on and win it.
I have played in a European Championship held in this country and I know how if you get on a roll then you can feel unstoppable. With the semi-final and final being held at Wembley, there is every chance England can win the tournament.
However, there is a lot of football to be played and you never know what might happen. I am hopeful that Southgate’s side can make the last four and then they will have every chance.
Easy one to finish with, who wins the tournament, and who do you think will be top scorer?
I think France recalling Benzema means they are the team to beat and I can’t look past Mbappe for top goalscorer, although Kane can push him close.