From our special correspondent in London,
At this stage, everything is still allowed. The start of a major competition like the Euro is always dressed in that coat of optimism that gives all supporters the right to believe in something. For North Macedonia, it means passing the group stage, for Belgium, it is having more possessions than the Blues, and for England, it is a question of bringing home the first trophy since the 1966 World Cup. It’s starting to date.
Note, speaking of the Three Lions, that for a formation accustomed to disappointing Euro after Euro, World after World, the English selection is lucky to be still cited among the favorites of the competition. This year is no exception to the rule: in France as with the Queen, everyone is excited for the English. To have spent a long time chatting with locals waiting to withdraw our accreditation under the London dodger, we can tell you that they are little to doubt their selection, apart from a taxi driver, Muhammad, who sees this team “too weak mentally to take the last step”.
England just behind France for bookmakers
Helen, volunteer, gives us the usual verse about great English individuals: “We have a great team with incredible players. We have Rashford, we have Kane. And we had an English Champions League final. “Note that the confusion between clubs and the national team is quite present in the minds of our optimists. “There are English at City and Chelsea”, justifies Joshua between two sips of the fleet. And this is how we end up with an England rated at 7 by the bookmakers who only see the Blues (rating at 5) in front of it. The coach does not like the masses: “bookmakers are not stupid. They don’t want to lose money. But can we say that we are ahead of Portugal, which won a League of Nations and a Euro? Or France, world champion? Or Belgium, ranked No. 1 for four years and which has lost only two or three games? “
The remark would be almost nasty to his team if the irony did not serve a noble idea: to protect the dressing room from England’s irrational infatuation with his national team, which José Mourinho compares to Brazilian fervor in a tribune for the Sun.
“England are probably – along with Brazil – one of the two most difficult countries to train because of expectations. They have to fight against it. Culturally, instead of supporting them from the first to the last day, we immediately start with some negativity around them. “
This year, for example, supporters have found it wise to whistle their own players during the preparatory matches for the Euro on the pretext that they knelt before kick-off to show their commitment to the fight against racism. You almost wonder if playing so many home games (a 6 out of 7 course in London is possible) is really a gift for the Three Lions when you know what their fans are capable of.
Darren Tulett, famous British backer of beIN Sports: “It’s a country of mad people, with a lot of pages written in all the newspapers, it puts crazy pressure. If England finish first in their group, one can imagine that there will be great fervor. But if it doesn’t go as planned, it can go quickly the other way. “
Broken hopes and promises
The more the waits, the heavier the fall. One would have thought that the failure of the Scholes generation, Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney would bring the three lions into the ranks of world football, which observers would no longer be fooled by. Yet it is screaming, this team is being pursued by a mixture of bad luck and popular pressure. Who else gets taken out by a guard
without gloves or by a myopic referee unable to see a ball cross the ball of a meter in the cages? And yet, before the Euro hopes, these same English were presented as one of the favorites, if not the big favorite of the competition. All this to get out from the hens by Portugal and Switzerland in the most total anonymity.
“I have the impression that we never learn from our mistakes and our weaknesses, regrets Tulett. This team has always been promises that never give much. I am amazed around me to see colleagues who tell me ” pinch England to a head to go to the final … ” But in fact, you have learned nothing from history. We have a major title and other than that? No final, no final at the Euro. “
And to anyone who dares to brandish the 2018 World Cup argument, the beIN presenter answers the question mark. “Who did we beat? We lose twice against Belgium and once against Croatia. Against the stronger teams… ”Sunday, the men of Gareth Southgate will have the opportunity to contradict this theory against their executioners of the World Cup. The coach believes in it: “we are capable of beating anyone in a game. »It will take at least that to justify the general inflammation.