By 90Min
October 18, 2018

If you're not aware, England are now the 'Form Team in the World'. This is because they schooled previous 'Form Team in the World' champions Spain in their backyard. With this first trophy of the Gareth Southgate era garnered, fans are exultant in their postulation of what this young England side could become. 

Yes the World Cup semi-final run was wondrous. But, aside from the hoodoo-banishing penalty shootout win over Colombia or the 6-1 demolition job on (err) Panama, there was no statement win. This was that statement win. In a (newly anointed) STATEMENT competition. 

The first half dismantling of La Roja, and stubborn shut-out in the second - coupled with the summer of love that was - has lent credence to the notion that England really could do something special on the grand stage.

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Well, fret not. Because, after some of the most sincere and breathless soothsaying we've done so far in this series, we struck prophetic gold. 

This, is England's Euro 2020 Prophecy. 

Before we launch into England's homecoming/crowning moment, it's probably worth re-hashing how they got there. 

If the Nations League is truly the apple of your eye, then I have some devastating news for you - we didn't win it. We did get to the final four part, beating Belgium to avenge the two friendly-non-friendly losses at the World Cup. But unfortunately, we came unstuck against a resurgent Holland side in the final, who simultaneously claimed the Nations League title and the 'Form Team in the World' Cup, the b*stards. 

Despite the aggravating loss, Southgate cited the progression from 12 months prior, and everyone collectively nodded their head in approval as they folded their waistcoats away for another winter. 

On the 12th of June 2020, the freshly-ironed waistcoats were back out in full force. England were drawn in Group A alongside Italy, Iceland and Republic of Ireland, and charged with playing their games in Rome and Baku. It's a tough draw, enforcing exhaustive trips back and forth from Azerbaijan to the home of the Azzurri. 

The squad is one you would readily recognise, with the expected emergence of youngsters such as Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho et al realised. Unfortunately, things didn't work out so well for Phil Foden. The midfielder fell out with Pep Guardiola because his 19th Birthday cake from the club featured no Gucci insignia, and was promptly shipped off to Blackburn Rovers to operate in a central pivot alongside Jack Rodwell as retribution.

First up, it was the Italians at the Stadio Olimpico. The tone-setter of all tone-setters. It's worth pointing out this was a much improved Italy side, helmed by Antonio Conte once more, after the former Chelsea manager got bored of draining the west Londoners of their capital and pounced on Roberto Mancini's ineptitude. 

In any case, a Foden-less England came through a testy encounter as 1-0 winners, thanks to a 25 yard header from Harry Maguire that caught a gust of Roman wind and sailed over Gianluigi Buffon's greying head. FYI Gigi came back to international football when the draw was made - he wasn't going to miss a 'home' Euros, was he.

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Next up was Iceland. The crunch match. The Vi-klasico(?). The revenge game of all revenge games. And, amidst a media snow-storm, the Three Lions blew their opponents out of the water with a 3-0 hammering, melting the Icelandic's chances of progression in the process. 

The Irish proved a sterner test, but even they eventually succumbed to the pressure, with 40-year-old player-manager Richard Dunne netting an 81st minute own goal to break the Boys in Green's hearts. 

Going into the knockout rounds with a 100 per cent record, England, in particular Raheem Sterling, moved up a gear. The City winger scored his 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th international goals in anxiety-filled triumphs over Switzerland, Holland (HAH! Who's the 'Form Team in the World' now, Virgil & co?) and Spain in the last 16, quarter-final and semi-final respectively. 

Through all this, England fans were on cloud nine, cheering their boys onto glory with the chart-topping anthem from Gary Barlow and Harry Redknapp 'Gaz's Plan', itself set to the tune of Drake's 'God's Plan'. This is, after all, Brexit Britain ladies & gentlemen.

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And so, to Wembley, and a clash with the auld enemy... sorry, typo, I meant *old*. It's obviously not Scotland in the final. Obviously. It's the Germans. Die Mannschaft at Wembley in the European Championship final. It doesn't get much bigger. 

You're probably thinking: "Germany?!? But they were in crisis. Gibraltar had won more games in four days in 2018 than they had all year. They were spiralling. They were finished."

You'd obviously be wrong. Because this is Jose Mourinho's DFB-Elf. That's right. The Portuguese tactician got so fed up of the English media in his dying days at Old Trafford, that he immediately sought to exact his revenge. And, when Joaquim Löw was relieved of his duties at a similar time, Die Mourinnschaft was born. 

If you're wondering why Mourinho isn't tearing it up at Inter, or making Manchester United great again, then you must know that we take a scattergun approach when it comes to predictions. You can't be right all the time.

Having mind-gamed Didier Deschamps into dropping Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe for the semi-final in favour of a more defensive approach, and reaping the rewards, the combination was looking lethal.

But Gareth and the boys were not daunted. Man for man, they fronted up to the Germans. Eric Dier set the tone with a bone crunching tackle on Thomas Muller, the kind that had become his trademark following the clattering of Sergio Ramos. 

Southgate, in full face of all the Euro '96 hark-backs once again, outwitted his opposite number in the dugout with a smart pressing game that harried the Germans out of their rhythm. It was, naturally, as tense as it gets. Wembley was simultaneously volcanic and pin-drop quiet. 

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But when Harry Kane - of course it was Harry Kane - scored in the 74th minute, the stadium shook with the roar of a whole country pulsating through it. When the final whistle blew, after 20 minutes of unrelenting English sh*thousery and skin crawling German pressure, the euphoria was tinged with a palpable relief. 

(Sir) Gaz's plan had come to fruition. Everything was in it's rightful place. Football was back where it belonged. It was home. And Qatar 2022 was the homecoming celebration.

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