England train ahead of Italy Euro final
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England will face off against Italy in the Euro 2020 final this evening. And Gary Neville thinks that, by putting Bukayo Saka up for interviews this week, Gareth Southgate may be using the Arsenal star as a smokescreen. It’s a massive night for the Three Lions, who are now just 90 minutes away from glory.
England have had a great Euro 2020 campaign so far.
Croatia and Czech Republic were both seen off in the group stages, with the Three Lions drawing with Scotland in between.
England then beat Germany and Ukraine in the round of 16 and quarter-final respectively, playing some entertaining stuff along the way.
And, on Wednesday, they booked their place in the final with a narrow 2-1 victory over Denmark with Harry Kane scoring the winner in extra time.
For tonight’s match, many are expecting Saka to get the nod.
But Gary Neville wants the Arsenal star dropped and thinks Southgate, by putting the youngster forward for interviews in recent days, may be using him as a smokescreen.
“There is only one possible change and that’s Saka,” he told ITV Sport.
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“I know that would possibly be an unpopular thing to say, I just feel he may say go for sixty minutes and we’ll get you off – which he’s done before – he may say that and go with the same team.
“I just wonder whether he might bring someone else in.”
And he then added: “Actually putting him up for interviews before the final makes me think he might not be playing.
“If Rashford was in form I’d go Rashford-Sterling just to get in behind (Giorgio) Chiellini and (Leonardo) Bonucci but Rashford hasn’t been in the greatest of form. I would think it would be Sancho if Saka doesn’t play.
“I think you have to play two of the quicker ones, so it would be Saka, Sancho or Rashford with Sterling on the other side.”
However England line up, the whole nation is behind them.
And Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has penned an emotional letter ahead of the match, calling on the Three Lions to savour the occasion.
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“Think about it. What unites us as a nation like football? Nothing. It is a kind of magic, really,” he wrote for The Player’s Tribune.
“That is the power of football. The power of England.
“And this team in particular — this group of 26 young lads and their manager — has taken it to another level, bringing so much pride, joy and togetherness to a nation that is so often stuck in division.
“In their brilliance on and off the field, this team represents the very best of England in its diversity, dignity and shining social conscience.
“To a man, they are thoughtful, empathetic and articulate. And they are changing what it means to be an England footballer.
“It’s incredible, really, especially when you consider how young they are — they’re just kids! Though I can’t claim any part in their development, watching them I feel like a proud father.
“When I was in my 20s, I wouldn’t say boo to a goose, let alone do the things that Marcus Rashford — though it should never have to be his responsibility — is doing to help underprivileged youth. The same goes for the amazing work of Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and many more.
“They are truly inspirational, and also brilliant footballers. And we the fans have responded to that.
“The atmosphere in a near-full Wembley on Wednesday night for the semifinal was electric.
“There was a moment before the game when I was sitting with Jürgen Klinsmann and we both watched in awe, soaking it all up, as the entire stadium — English, Danish and everyone else — belted out “Sweet Caroline” at the top of their lungs.
“There is such joy in having people back in stadiums. People who want to make the most of it and get behind this team after the year and a half we’ve all endured.
“I know there will always be a segment of the “fans” that won’t be so well-behaved. I don’t want to get into some of the less savoury scenes, because that is not what this piece is about, but I will say this.
“Booing? Really? Come on, we’re better than that.
“Sing songs, get drunk, throw pints, have fun. That’s what we do. That’s our culture.
“But when you boo other national anthems and our own boys taking the knee … when you act out your worst impulses, often in the name of “patriotism,” honestly most of us are embarrassed by it.
“You can call yourself a patriot, but that’s not what the word means to me. As someone who loves England deeply and is proud to have represented this country 80 times, my view is that true patriotism comes from caring about the values that not only your country has, but also those it aspires to hold.
“It irritates me when basic ideas of empathy and conscience are twisted into notions of anti-Englishness, when in fact those values are among the most English of all.
“I’ve got no special advice to give you players ahead of tonight. You’ve made it further in a tournament than I ever did.
“No one needs to hype you up for this game. You know what this means and what you’ve got to do.
“You are the right players at the right time with the right man in charge.
“All I want to say to you is that the country is really proud of you. You’ve given everything and you’ve stuck together.
“Now there is one more step. Just more of the same, please.”
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