Lessons for England Ahead of Euro 2024: 2 Successful Teams to Take Inspiration From.

Lessons for England Ahead of Euro 2024: 2 Successful Teams to Take Inspiration From.

5th Jul, 2024 @ 11:57 am

As the dust settles on England's uninspiring group-stage performances at Euro 2024, fans and pundits are searching for hope. The Three Lions have found themselves in a familiar position, having failed to meet pre-tournament expectations despite a squad brimming with talent. Everything was rosy when Jude Bellingham gave his side the lead after 13 minutes against Serbia in their opening game, but it has been downhill since.

Gareth Southgate's side went on to be dominated by the Serbs and were lucky to scrape a 1-0 victory. They then drew 1-1 with Denmark and proceeded to be dominated once again, especially in the second half. Their final group game against Slovenia was arguably the worst performance of the lot, slumping to a goalless draw against the 57th-ranked team in the world, the lowest at the European Championships this summer.

The latest Soccer odds surprisingly still make England the +375 tournament favorites, which is perhaps aided by them avoiding the likes of Germany, France and Spain who are all on the opposite side of the knockout stage draw. Despite that, alarm bells are still ringing, but perhaps they shouldn't be. Here are two teams that have found themselves in similar positions in recent years that England should be able to draw inspiration from.

Italy always finds a way to impress on the grandest stage, no matter what kind of form the team are in throughout the early stages of the tournament. They reached the final of Euro 2012 despite winning just one of their opening three games. They also won the 2006 World Cup after a dreadful start that extended into the group stages.

Of the most recent of those two competitions, the Azzurri began their campaign with two uninspiring draws against Spain and Croatia. Their performances were far from convincing, and questions were raised about their ability to compete with Europe's elite. They picked up a hard-fought victory against Ireland in their final group game to secure their progression to the last 16 thanks to goals from Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli, and things immediately kicked into gear.
They managed to knock off England in the quarterfinals via a nerve-shredding penalty shootout, something they would do once more nine years later to lift the trophy. They would then beat a Germany team that would win the World Cup two years later, with the maverick Super Maro on target once more with a brace in the semifinals. Unfortunately, Spain would have too much to handle in the final, romping to a 4-0 victory in Kyiv, Cesare Prandelli's side just to make it that far was already a huge achievement.

Six years prior, Italy found itself in a similar position at the 2005 World Cup. Marcello Lippi’s side entered the tournament amid a domestic football scandal that cast a shadow over their preparations. Despite this, the Azzurri navigated a potentially tricky group stage against Ghana, the Czech Republic, and the USA with relative ease, but without setting the world alight. Those struggles continued in the last 16 as Italy required a controversial 95th-minute Francesco Totti penalty to beat Australia.
By the time the tournament reached the quarterfinals stage, Italy still hadn't reached second gear, but a favorable clash against Ukraine resulted in a 3-0 victory setting up a mouthwater semifinal against hosts Germany in Dortmund. And it was there that the Italians began to flex their muscles. They defeated the hosts after extra time thanks to late goals from Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero, before beating France on penalties in the final to lift the trophy.

Portugal’s Euro 2016 campaign is perhaps the most poignant example of a team bouncing back from a lackluster opening round. Fernando Santos’ men entered the tournament as dark horses despite having Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line and stumbled through the group stages. they finished third behind Iceland and Austria after drawing all three games, and they only made it to the second round due to the tournament being increased from 16 to 24 teams and thus more teams reaching the knockout stage.

Their transformation in the knockout stages was nothing short of remarkable. They edged out Croatia in extra time in the Round of 16, overcame Poland on penalties in the quarter-finals, and dispatched Wales in the semi-finals with a solid performance that brought their first victory inside 90 minutes in the entire tournament.

The final against France was the culmination of their resilience and tactical discipline. Despite losing the talismanic CR7 to a first-half injury, the Portuguese held firm against the heavily favored Les Bleus. They were ultimately rewarded for their perseverance through a 109th minute thunderbolt from unheralded striker Eder. That was enough to secure the victory and the trophy, the first in the history of Portuguese football and perhaps the finest moment in the
illustrious career of their iconic captain.

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