Countdown to Euro 2020: Daily briefing
England got their Euro 2020 preparations underway last night with a 1-0 win over Austria in Middlesbrough, but Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury has dampened the mood with less than two weeks before the Three Lions’ opening match against Croatia at Wembley.
There was joy for Bukayo Saka as the 19-year-old scored his first international goal to seal the warm-up win, as well as impressive performances from Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish, but manager Gareth Southgate now has a nervous wait as England assess Alexander-Arnold’s thigh strain. It’s one of several injury concerns for Southgate ahead of the tournament, with Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson also facing a battle in their bids to return to full fitness.
Southgate also condemned those at the Riverside Stadium who booed England taking the knee before kick-off, as sections of supporters continued to voice their opposition to the pre-match showing of solidarity towards anti-racism.
Elsewhere, a much-changed Scotland secured a 2-2 draw with the Netherlands to get their preparations underway, despite the ongoing uncertainty around the squad’s Covid-19 scare, while 10-man Wales were beaten 3-0 by tournament favourites France. England aren’t the only country to have fitness concerns, either, with Kevin De Bruyne set to miss Belgium’s opening game of the tournament.
We’ll bring you all the latest team news, reaction from last night’s friendlies and build-up to Euro 2020 throughout the day:
All eyes on Belgium
Belgium get their Euro preparations underway tonight against Greece, in the first of two warm-up friendlies for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 14:02
Shaqiri’s overhead kick from Euro 2016
Today is world bicycle day, apparently, which is a good enough excuse to fire up Xherdan Shaqiri’s unbelievable bicycle kick from Euro 2016…
It didn’t even win goal of the tournament!
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 13:15
Who is England’s next man up?
If the Liverpool man is ruled out of the Euros, who takes Trent Alexander-Arnold’s spot in England’s squad?
James Ward-Prowse is Lawrence’s choice, partly due to his excellent set-piece delivery, but what about the tournament experience of Jesse Lingard? And do the doubts over Harry Maguire’s fitness mean that adding extra centre-back cover is more of a priority?
Gareth Southgate has until the opening match of the tournament to make any injury-forced adjustments to his group, but we’re yet to hear any further updates on Alexander-Arnold’s thigh problem.
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 12:57
Spain’s new number 9 talks up Euros chances
Gerard Moreno comes into the Euros as one of the hottest strikers in the tournament, and the Villarreal forward has been rewarded for a stellar season with Spain’s number 9 shirt.
Moreno scored 32 goals in all competitions for Villarreal this season, including in their Europa League final win over Manchester United, and will lead the line for his country his summer.
“Being able to represent the Spanish team is the greatest thing that can happen to a footballer. It’s a privilege and an honour to be the 9 of Spain,” he said.
“I’ve been playing with a nine in front for a long time at club level, having that freedom for my game. I’ve always watched [David] Villa, and Raúl, how they played and what movements they made.
“Our goal is to win the Euros. But it is difficult because there are big teams that also want to win.”
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 12:46
Why England fans booing players taking a knee is wide of the mark
While condemned by manager Gareth Southgate, the booing of England’s players taking a knee before the friendly against Austria cast a shadow over the 1-0 win, writes The Independent’s Melissa Reddy.
“England’s match-winner against Austria was a supremely skilled 19-year-old from Ealing, born to Nigerian parents. Bukayo Saka’s first name, which is derived from the Yoruba tribe, means ‘adds to happiness.’
“Seeing him and so many gifted young black and mixed-race footballers take centre stage for England is indeed joyous.
“They deserve support, applause and understanding – not the booing of a fundamental belief, of a basic right, and on a wider scale, their entire identity.”
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 12:27
Saka: From star-struck teenager to England match-winner
Bukayo Saka celebrated his selection in England’s Euro squad in style when he scored his first international goal in the 1-0 win over Austria.
When asked if he felt star-struck being involved with England, Saka replied: “Yes, maybe I did when I first came in.
“But now I’ve met the lads, I am more familiar with them. Things are much easier and I feel more at home when I come to camp.
“The feeling of being selected for the Euros is already just amazing and then now to get my first goal is even better.
“There’s just so many good things coming my way and I have to thank God for the blessings.”
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 12:06
Will football come home at Euro 2020? Join our free virtual event
Will Southgate’s Three Lions finally bring football home? Can Scotland spring a surprise? How will Wales cope without Ryan Giggs?
Join us for our free virtual event – Euro 2020 – will football finally come home? – on 9 June at 6.30pm where all those questions and more will be answered by our expert panel.
Sports feature writer Vithushan Ehantharajah will host and will be joined by our chief football writer Miguel Delaney, senior football correspondent Melissa Reddy and northern football correspondent Mark Critchley.
The panel will also pick their tournament favourites, dark horses and ones to watch before giving their predictions for who will triumph and lift the trophy at Wembley on 11 July.
There will be also time for questions from the audience on anything Euros related after their main discussion.
The webinar will be held at 6.30pm on 9 June. To find out how to join and submit your questions ahead of it please sign up here
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 11:47
Muller on ‘intense’ Germany return
Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels made their long-awaited comebacks for Germany last night, but the evening ended in disappointment for Jogi Low’s side as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Denmark.
The 2014 World Cup winners had not played for the national team since November 2018 but have been brought back into the fold for Low’s final tournament as Germany manager.
“It was intense, I saw a lot of good things,” Muller said. “In the second half, however, we also had a phase in which we couldn’t get into the duels. It’s hard to judge.
“We didn’t get stuck into the challenges as well in the second half. Denmark were able to shake us off and got their goal. We had some incisive attacks and with a bit of luck, those two shots against the woodwork could have gone in.
“That’s frustrating, but it shows that this is punished at this level. We have to learn the patience between offense and defence.”
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 11:35
Bellingham stakes his claim
On his first start for the national team, 17-year-old Jude Bellingham produced another impressive performance in the centre of midfield.
The Borussia Dortmund player has stepped up to every challenge he has faced so far in his young career, and has already started, and scored, in a Champions League quarter-final. How close is he to a starting spot in England’s team at Wembley on 13 June?
Here’s The Independent’s analysis of Bellingham’s display, as well as four other talking points from the 1-0 win over Austria.
“Powerful in the challenge, with good anticipation on how play would develop and the technical ability to break through the midfield, Bellingham was one of the most impressive performers in the first hour.
“He should have scored an early header perhaps, but equally he made a big block on the edge of his own box on a shot which carried danger.
“With lingering fitness doubts over Jordan Henderson, Bellingham perhaps pressed his case most for inclusion in the Euro 2020 opening line-up.”
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 11:21
Who could replace Trent Alexander-Arnold?
After selecting four right-backs in his 26-man England squad, Gareth Southgate joked that he would have chosen “five or six” if he could.
But after Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up an injury against Austria, the England manager could look to bolster his midfield options instead if the Liverpool full-back is forced to withdraw from the tournament.
Or would Southgate look to bring in another centre-back, following the international debuts of Ben Godfrey and Ben White on Wednesday?
Here’s a look at the options Southgate has available if Alexander-Arnold is unavailable for the Euros.
Jamie Braidwood3 June 2021 11:08