EURO 2020- ENGLAND VS UKRAINE: 3 TALKING POINTS
SRINIVAS SADHANAND | 4th July 2021
AHarry Kane brace and headers apiece from Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson sent Ukraine packing as England take a step closer to ‘Mission: It’s Coming Home’.
Here are MTAG: More Than A Game’s 3 talking points from a one-sided quarter-final affair.
Shawberto Carlos indeed
The biggest compliment one can pay to Luke Shaw is that he hadn’t fully activated Super Saiyan mode, despite being the best player on the pitch. But when you’re the best at something, your 70% is the best game of their lives. And that’s life as Luke Shaw; also referred to as the ‘best left-back in the Premier League by a mile’.
Even before the Saints youth graduate turned assister on the night, he always made his presence felt- getting stuck into challenges, making those overlapping runs and setting cut-backs on a plate that were yet to be devoured.
However, it was only a matter of time until Shaw fed and the Harry’s feasted. Maguire finished his dinner from close quarters after a delicious delivery from his teammate’s free-kick led to a goal made in Manchester.
And an unmarked Kane did the same after Sterling and Shaw were in perfect symphony once again as England’s best left-back proved his credentials with his 2nd assist at Jose Mourinho’s gaff.
Only two English players have provided 3+ assists at a single European Championship tournament:
David Beckham (2000)
Luke Shaw (2020)
Pinpoint delivery. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/UxGQSvA4Ct
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) July 3, 2021
Make of that what you will while the Shawberto Carlos moniker lives on for the right reasons.
How can you doubt Harry Kane?
It would have been one of the stories of the season if a striker bossed the goals and assists chart while his team finished in the Conference League. Ballon d’Or shouts galore, inescapable amounts of features and interviews where we’d discover what he does in his downtime innumerable times. But because it’s Harry Kane, it’s standard.
Sure, he was struggling at the Euros but can you really be this reactionary after 3 games?
The Three Lions skipper has touched on how Michael Jordan inspired him in “The Last Dance” and it’s no surprises to see why he took all the slander personally. Timing his run to perfection and backing that up with a sumptuous finish, Kane did what’s on the tin when you’re one of the best in the business.
And albeit after a piece of inexcusable Ukrainian defending, leaving England’s No.9 unmarked, the Spurs striker obliged, powering a header to cap off a fine brace.
Harry Kane… best centre forward in World football for me. People tried to talk because he didn’t score for a couple of games but goes back to that old saying, form is temporary but class is permanent 🤝
— James Maddison (@Madders10) July 3, 2021
With all due respect to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, he’s on a different planet of strikers that excludes Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski. And sticking either Marcus Rashford or Raheem Sterling up front is throwing them under the bus, considering they’re wingers by trade.
Here’s some more food for thought.
Romelu Lukaku thrives because Belgium and Inter are the closest thing to tactical twins while England and Spurs look nothing like each other. Argentina is built around their outright best player in Lionel Messi and yet Kane is supposed to “adapt” while the others aren’t watching Son Heung-min compilations on repeat?
The worries were understandable but this rush to find an alternative to Kane was pure silliness. The Golden Boot could also be coming home.
England’s biggest weakness might be their biggest strength
The injury to Harry Maguire, the exclusions of the likes of Fikayo Tomori and Ezri Konsa, the never-ending Trent Alexander-Arnold debate and Jordan Pickford’s sketchy season. Each of these subjects were topics of national debate as England’s back 5 (or 6) was seen as a blatant chink in their armor while their attacking reserve couldn’t get any better.
Fast forward to Jordan Pickford’s stupendous displays in goal, John Stones and Tyrone Mings stepping up big-time in the absence of Harry Maguire who has been ace since his return, all these topics of conversation are in the mud as England haven’t conceded a single goal at the Euros.
And while the Three Lions were excellent going forward against Ukraine, the English have been dull in the final third in general, despite being spoilt for choice in attack. Defensively however, they aren’t blessed with the superstars but the backline has been flawless.
Pragmaticism and patience coupled with the brilliance of their elite forwards; also known as the Germany template could really be the secret sauce behind ensuring that football is coming home.
Another cleansheet for the Three Lions who’ve been immense at the back once again. Imagine saying that a month ago.