EURO 2020 NOTES: Another shot for England to win championship

England's defender Harry Maguire, England's defender Kieran Trippier, England's midfielder Declan Rice, England's forward Harry Kane and England's midfielder Mason Mount take part in their MD-1 training session at St Georges Park in Burton-on-Trent, central England, on June 12, 2021 on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 match against Croatia.

Optimism is always high for England going to any major competition, but it has been well over half a century since it has won a championship.

England’s one and only title came when it hosted the 1966 FIFA World Cup and, since then, there has only been heartache and disappointment for fans of the Three Lions.

England came close three years ago at the World Cup in Russia, but was eliminated in the semifinal by Croatia, who it faces Sunday in its opener of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Once again, expectations are high going into the tournament, with England fielding a relatively young squad led by veteran Harry Kane.

“It’s something that we talk about, that fearlessness going into games and that desire to want to win,” midfielder Mason Mount, 22, said on Friday. “We have this young group and we’re hungry to do well and to make the nation proud. We’re going into every game we’re going to be ready and trying to perform to the best of our abilities.”

England is in a group with Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic and have been pegged to come out on top, where it would face the second place team in Group F, which features Hungary, Portugal, France and Germany.

England cancelled its pre-game press conference Saturday after Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field in Copenhagen and had to be taken to hospital. As a former player with Tottenham Hotspur, Eriksen has a lot of friends on the England squad.

Croatia did hold its availability with captain Luka Modric, who was not impressed with being written off in the group by pundits. Modric, 35, was a major factor in Croatia’s 2-1 come-from-behind win at the World Cup in Russia.

“That arrogance, it’s not so much related to the players and to the England national team, but to the people around them, some of the journalists, commentators and so forth,” Modric said. “I’m looking forward to the match and I don’t want to say too much about what’s on the other side.”


A sombre Belgium took the field against Russia in St. Petersburg less than two hours after Eriksen collapsed in Copenhagen.

There was some question whether the game would go ahead considering the status of Eriksen was unknown and there were a number of Belgians who have been teammates with him.

“It was real sadness, we were watching it live and then probably in the next five minutes we were going into the team meeting and as you can imagine the last thing we wanted to speak about was football,” manager Roberto Martinez said. “It was a real shock, a real sadness. There were tears; we have a lot of teammates in our dressing room that shared big moments with Christian.

“It was a real sense of shock and we could only send our prayers and our thoughts to Christian. Then we all got better news when we saw he had a recovery and our well wishes from our national team and everyone in Belgium is to Christian today and his family and his whole Danish team. That was a really tough moment in St. Petersburg, so I can imagine how difficult it was in Copenhagen.”

Belgium dominated the contest with Romelu Lukaku, Eriksen’s teammate at Inter Milan, scoring twice and Thomas Meunier adding the other.

“The performance was very pleasing it’s never easy to start at tournament of this magnitude,” Martinez said. “I think our team was very concentrated for 90 minutes and we kept a clean sheet in a very good way. The win will allows to grow and get into the tournament.”

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