England Fail To Qualify.
Englands woeful season continues. Forget the roar of the 3 Lions, it’s more like the snore as they whimper out of the Nations League finals. The campaign started with a really poor display against Iceland. A 1-0 win was enough to get the points, thanks to a penalty in the 89th minute from Raheem Sterling. With Kyle Walker red carded 20 minutes earlier it looked like England had managed to pick up the first win. Then a yellow card for Joe Gomez and a penalty was awarded to Iceland in the 93rd minute. A really poor spot kick by Birkir Bjarnason however, saved Englands blushes.
11th October England 2 Belgium 1
England came from behind to win 2-1 to overcome the world’s top-ranked team. This was only Belgium’s first loss since November 2018, a pretty solid record that has survived 2 years. England enjoyed this victory, thanks to a penalty in the 39th minute by Marcus Rashford which cancelled out an earlier penalty scored by Romelu Lukaku. A deflected shot by Mason Mount in the 64th minute was enough to secure a well deserved win.
14th October England 0 Denmark 1
Harry Maguire’s early red card set the tone for the match. Denmark beat England at Wembley thanks to a penalty score by Christian Eriksen after a dubiously awarded spot kick. This was his 34th goal for Denmark on his 100th appearance, was one to remember. England went on to prevent any further goals, but a second red came after the final whistle, this time for Reece James.
From their last 50 competitive internationals at home, this was only the third defeat. What it meant though was England sat in third in the table with only the group winners going to progress. This was a game England needed to win and the fans expected, especially after the 0-0 in September in the reverse fixture.
The Nail In The Coffin – Belgium 2 England 0.
For those who watched on Sunday 15th November, the reality of how good ( or not ) England are, came home. A back 5 formation clearly didn’t work, as the scoreline showed after 24 minutes and the team were 2 goals down. Plenty of possession but didn’t do much with it. Yes it can be argued that injuries had meant changes, but the same seems to apply to all teams currently. Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish stood out in this fixture, having a good game and looking sharp with the ball. Sadly for him and the rest of the nation, Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens scoring the 2 goals really knocked the wind out of the sails of the England team. Belgium’s 2-0 win over England was also Roberto Martínez’s 50th match as their coach and his 39th victory. Drawing 7 and losing just 4, this squad look like going places still and at 7/2 to lift the trophy could be one to consider. A handful of bookies have them joint favourite alongside France and you can get 5/2 on them both.
England host Iceland in their final yet unimportant Nations League match. Stuck in the third spot out of 4 teams is woeful. Iceland are rooted bottom and the match on Wednesday evening will give one of 2 outcomes. England go and thrash the minnows or Iceland play like they have never played before and draw or even win against England. Either way though, it really is a no win match for England. Playing for pride you’d stick with the strongest squad possible or do you give some of the fringe players a more central role and let them earn caps by starting this match. I’m sure that there will be a group of Premier League managers who’d rather have their players rested and no risk injury.