While a 2018 World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia and a European Championship final defeat on penalties to Italy have been tough to take, the lessons learned might see the Three Lions finally get over the line at the World Cup in Qatar next year.
Another Night of ‘What If’
England once again saw a lead in a big game squandered as they went on to suffer a 3-2 defeat on penalties against the Azzurri on Sunday night.
Manager Gareth Southgate saw his side take the lead thanks to a Luke Shaw goal in the second minute of the encounter, before Leonardo Bonucci’s equaliser in the 67th minute.
The tense affair edged its way through the 90 minutes, then extra time, before keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made himself an Italian legend in the dreaded shootout.
Questions have been raised on whether England could have done more to trouble Donnarumma before the match came down to spot-kicks?
Ultimately it’s another tough pill for England to swallow but skipper Harry Kane was adamant in his interviews after the full-time whistle that his side will “learn and grow” from the Wembley defeat.
Foundations in Place for Qatar Success
While it will take a while for the dust to settle on England missing out on a first title in 55 years, there have been plenty of positives to take into the World Cup next year, in which the Three Lions are
17/2 to win.
After what was a somewhat sluggish start to Euro 2020 in the group stages, with narrow wins over Croatia and Czech Republic alongside a stalemate with Scotland, England hit their stride with some impressive performances in the knockout games.
Southgate, who says he’s eager to take England forward into World Cup qualification matches later this year, oversaw a hard-fought 2-0 win over rivals Germany at Wembley in the last-16, before breezing past Ukraine in Rome in the quarter-finals.
Finding a way to win when not playing at your best is a trait England showed in overcoming a resilient Denmark in the semi-finals, and again it’s an experience the national side can use looking ahead to the 2022 World Cup.
Italy Back on the Map
Missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia was a low-point for the Italian national side but the former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has returned the Azzurri to their place as one of the powerhouses of world football.
Based on their traditional foundation in defence, it was not always pretty from Italy at Euro 2020 but they did enough to get their hands on the trophy.
It certainly bodes well for the Italians ahead of the 2022 World Cup, with the newly-crowned European champions now
14/1 to win the title in Qatar next year.
*All odds correct at time of writing