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Football’s Coming *Rome

After an incredible month of football, I am sad to announce that football is not coming home. However, after 55 years of disappointing England performances, it was a huge achievement to make the final and get within an inch of winning (even if we lost on penalties again…). After what can only be described as a difficult 18 months, it was great to see the country reunited again supporting the three lions and making us proud to be English. During the tournament there were 142 goals (11 own goals), 27 clean sheets, six red cards and many a sub-par penalty shootout. Let’s take a look at the standout moments, and stats from the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament.

On Sunday night Italy won their second European Championship title, and first in 53 years. It's the longest ever gap between championships in the Euros by a single nation, but well deserved after a 33-match unbeaten run and by the best team in the tournament. It was a hard-fought game that was on a knife’s edge throughout, no-one quite knowing who would come out on top. England’s Luke Shaw scored after just 2 minutes to the delight of the crowds in Wembley Stadium, and it wasn’t until the 67th minute with Italy dominating in possession that England finally let them back into the game with an equaliser. After a tense period of extra time failed to find a winner, the score still at 1-1, the whistle was blown and we all knew where this was headed. England have won just two out of nine of their major tournament shootouts and you could sense the nerves all over the country. Captain Harry Kane and Harry Maguire both scored their penalties, Jordan Pickford managed to save two but sadly England's three substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missed, meaning Italy won 3-2. Questions were asked as to why Saka, on the most pressurised night of his emerging football career, got the call up and thus had to suffer the same fate that ensued Gareth Southgate in the Euro '96 semi-final against Germany, but he should still be proud of his tournament and will no doubt be playing in the England team for a long time. Southgate is overseeing genuine development in England's national side and no-one will forget the scenes of jubilation after wins against Germany and in the semi-final against Denmark. Sadly, it was just not meant to be. Now we wait until the 2022 World Cup.

A few stats from the tournament, Kalvin Phillips covered the second most distance in the tournament, with his 83km only beaten by Italy's Jorginho who managed a whopping 86.6km. Phillips was also responsible for 229 pressing actions. This is 78 more than the next highest - Austria's Konrad Laimer - and nearly double the next highest England player - Mason Mount with 118. In terms of passes, Spain attempted 5,051 during the tournament and had the best completion rate (89.6%), Pedri was the chief conduit with 348 passes in an opponent's half and the third highest completion rate (91.1%). It was a record-breaking Euros for Cristiano Ronaldo, whose double against Hungary saw him become the first player in European Championship history to score 10+ goals in the competition. The match against Hungary was also Ronaldo's 39th appearance at a major tournament (World Cup & Euros) for Portugal, an all-time record for a European player.

It was a fantastic tournament, filled with joy, despair, surprises and a whole lot of chanting. England took one step further than they did in Russia and Southgate now has a powerful blend of youth and experience to work with as he puts a plan together in the build up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Raheem Sterling had a stellar campaign, Harry Kane showed moments of his top-class ability and the central defensive pair of John Stones and Harry Maguire were solid throughout. Jordan Pickford also made an awesome contribution in goal, only conceding 1 goal before the final. Although it is no consolation for not coming out as champions, it certainly gives us hope and optimism for the future, and who knows, maybe 2022 is the year that football finally comes home.

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