Remember how much fun we all had watching England in the summer? The weeks melted away into one huge two month long sun soaked festival of football. Lucky us, we get to do it all again in June, and here are 5 reasons why this year’s tournament in Portugal is going to be even bigger and better than Russia’s 2018 World Cup.
5) Two matches to win it
England had to play five matches before their eventual semi-final defeat against Croatia in Russia last July, the good news is England are already in the semi-finals for the Nations League.
They’ll face a young and rejuvenated Netherlands side, jampacked with talent like Frenkie De Jong, Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt, with a match waiting against either hosts Portugal or Switzerland in the final.
It sounds a tough task, but Gareth Southgate’s men will only need to win two matches before being crowned inaugural champions of the newly formed tournament – sounds easy, right? The UEFA Nations League Group A4 winners might actually be bringing it home after all.
4) Post-season hangover remedy
For the first time in over five years, the Premier League finally has a proper title race and it’s really heating up. Realistically it’s a two horse race between Manchester City and Liverpool, with the championship almost definitely heading to the North West of England.
The race is on track to be one of the closest ever, with experts predicting it will almost certainly still be undecided heading into the final match of the season.
Whilst the supporters of the club which falls short will inevitably want absolutely nothing to do with football for a while, what better remedy for such misery than to see the national team storm to success just weeks later?
3) Make a day of it!
“Good afternoon… shouldn’t you be at work?” Are the famous words from BBC Match of the Day presenter, Des Lynman, ahead of England’s 1998 World Cup tie against Tunisia.
When it was announced that England’s first World Cup match in eight years would kick-off at 2.30pm on a Monday afternoon, the nation went crazy. Parents phoned into schools telling teachers their children wouldn’t be in, workplaces recorded a record high for ‘sick days’ and for the unlucky ones that couldn’t escape their responsibilities, there were screenings in classrooms and work offices all over the country.
Unfortunately, the bigwigs at UEFA have stupidly decided to set the kick-off times for the Nations League semi-finals in the late evening, however that doesn’t mean you still can’t make a day of it. Not that we are suggesting you bunk-off work for the day, but if you happen to have some spare holidays, why not make the most of it and have a day off?
2) Fresh Three Lions
It seems like a lifetime ago Twitter went into meltdown when the England World Cup team was announced – whilst the squad didn’t initially capture the imaginations’ of the nation, performances on the pitch soon did.
But this year is different and our Gareth had a good clear out after Russia, making space for some really exciting young lions, hungry for success.
Ben Chilwell has been drafted in as a natural left-back, meaning they’ll be no out of position Ashley Young in Portugal, pensioners like Gary Cahill have been replaced with starlets like Joe Gomez, and Jadon Sancho has smashed through the ‘young English players don’t get a chance’ barrier by tearing the Bundesliga to pieces. Just look what they did when we went to Spain in November!
1) Uniting the nation
Let’s face it, the country isn’t in a great position right now, is it? Politics has split friends, families and relationships and every passing day uncertainty shadows hope. In times of such turmoil there’s only one entity that has the power to unite the nation, the beautiful game.
We saw it in 2018: after months of negativity leading into the tournament, our footballers captivated the hearts of the English population and made us forget about all the problems we’ve ever head. Football truly is the best coping mechanism out there, but only when you’re winning of course!
Russia was the dress-rehearsal, with a more refined, dynamic, exciting and hungry squad, Gareth and the boys are ready to bring it home from Portugal in the summer… David and Frank, cue that song.