England have had a nightmare build-up to Euro 2020… now nation’s hopes this summer rest on Man City and Chelsea stars - Godz
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England have had a nightmare build-up to Euro 2020… now nation’s hopes this summer rest on Man City and Chelsea stars

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ENGLAND have had some weird old build-ups to major tournaments.

Bobby Moore being nicked and accused of stealing a bracelet from a Bogota jewellers in 1970, Gazza in the dentist’s chair in 1996 and trashing Glenn Hoddle’s hotel room two years later.

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Man City ace Phil Foden is one of the returning stars Gareth Southgate will look to rely on at the Euros[/caption]

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Chelsea Mason Mount is also likely to slot straight back into the starting XI[/caption]

But in pure footballing terms, this has possibly been the strangest of the lot.

England’s players were booed before two friendlies in Middlesbrough, there are severe concerns over injuries to senior players and seven probable starters for next week’s tournament openers played no part in either game.

Should Gareth Southgate elect for a back five, as seems likely, then all seven of England’s Champions League finalists — Reece James, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling — could start against Croatia at Wembley next Sunday.

The advancement of Chelsea and Manchester City to that showpiece in Porto rendered these fixtures, against Austria and Romania, largely meaningless.

But the week saw an injury which ruled Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the tournament, some shoddy defending from Tyrone Mings and Jordan Henderson stealing — then missing — a penalty, against Southgate’s orders.

After Southgate had named four right-backs in his squad, he ended up playing Ben Godfrey, primarily a centre-back, at right-back against Romania. All very weird and while events have battered Southgate, he has lacked his usual clarity of thought these past couple of weeks.

Jack Grealish was lively, as usual, when he was not being kicked in the shins or the head by Romanian defenders but the Aston Villa skipper is unlikely to force his way into next week’s starting XI.

Sam Johnstone enjoyed an excellent debut between the sticks, including a Gordon Banksian point-blank save in the second half.

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And two players made decent cases to replace Alexander-Arnold as the final member of England’s 26-man squad — James Ward-Prowse, especially with his dead-ball delivery, and Ben White, who, on his full England debut looked far more solid than Mings.

Ward-Prowse is favourite but, with Harry Maguire way off full fitness, Southgate may feel White the more useful.

That decision will be made on Monday and then Southgate will turn his attention to that starting XI to face England’s World Cup conquerors.

Without Maguire, Southgate is likely to revert to a back five. Conor Coady is expected to get the nod alongside Walker and Stones in the central-defensive three.

Jordan Pickford will be in goal, Declan Rice alongside Mount in central midfield and Harry Kane leading the line.

Neither Marcus Rashford nor Jadon Sancho really did enough on Sunday to displace an out-of-sorts Sterling.

‘CROWD PLEASING GREALISH’

There will be plenty of calls to start the crowd-pleasing Grealish and the man with the miniature shin-pads earned Rashford’s winning penalty with a darting run midway through the second half.

But Southgate is likely to want a more pacey option on the left and still believes Grealish is short of complete match sharpness.

This was a warm-up game that was not really a warm-up game at all. None of Southgate’s starters against Romania are likely to line up next weekend.

Scores of morons booed England players taking the knee, despite Southgate’s impassioned defence of the stance.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Sancho rattled the crossbar in the first half but the first 30 minutes were dismal.

England improved when Rice and Jude Bellingham arrived in central midfield.

And the 17-year-old Bellingham is likely to play a significant role in England’s campaign, especially with Southgate again downplaying the chances of Henderson being fit enough to play much football.

The presence of Henderson, and an unfit Maguire, adds to all the weirdness.

This has been anything but an ideal preparation for a tournament some believe England have a chance of winning.

Whether they even come close will depend far less on those who faced Romania than the magnificent seven who played in that Champions League final.

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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Prem clubs’ income falls for first time EVER as clubs lose £700m after coronavirus hell

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PREMIER LEAGUE clubs lost revenue for the first time in HISTORY as the pandemic bites.

Income across the 20 top-flight clubs fell by £700MILLION in 2019-20, down from £4.5billion the previous campaign.

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PA:Press Association

Premier League clubs like Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea lost revenue for the first time EVER last season[/caption]

And with the impact of a full season in front of empty stands to come, it seems likely that the real impact of Covid will be felt in the accounts for last term.

The latest calculations by football finance experts Deloitte are no surprise after the past 15 months, since the world went into lockdown in March 2020.

But Premier League clubs were able to restart and finish the fractured campaign last summer — before playing out a full league fixtures list this term.

With revenues down and wages up  — by just three per cent to £3.3bn  — the wages to revenue ratio across the 20 top-flight clubs rose to a record high of 72 per cent.

And the aggregate pre-tax loss across all the clubs stood at £1bn, the worst figures in the history of the competition.

Prem chief exec Richard Masters has predicted the overall cost of the pandemic to the league will be in the region of £2bn once the full figures are calculated.

Although hopes are high of significant and potentially full crowds returning from next term.

Tottenham and Manchester United have both missed out on income of £6m per home match.

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And Deloitte’s Dan Jones explained: “The pandemic will continue to have a heavy impact on the 2020/21 season’s financial results when available.

“The absence of fans, postponement of matches and rebates to broadcasters had a significant impact on revenue clubs have been able to generate.

“Nonetheless, whilst this has been the most challenging period for all concerned in the football industry, Premier League clubs showed impressive resilience in mitigating the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By completing the 2019/20 season in full, live football provided a great boost to the public and valuable content for broadcasters.”

Jones’ colleague Tim Bridge admitted that it would be wrong to draw direct lessons on wages from what was a unique set of circumstances.

He said: “In fact, wages across the league increased by just 3 per cent — the lowest percentage increase in wages since the 2004/05 season.

“In this extraordinary year, it is difficult to read too much into whether this marks a shift in clubs’ approach to wage spending.

“Or if it is down to one-off elements, such as the absence of end-of-season bonuses, deferred to the next financial year, or the impact of temporary wage cuts or deferrals.

“We will watch to see if this financial shock will come to be seen as having caused a change in approach and greater control over wage expenditure.”

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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Team news, injury updates, latest odds for Hungary vs Portugal at Euro 2020

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PORTUGAL are looking to retain their European Championship crown… and five years on from glory they have a much better team.

They get started against Hungary on Tuesday with the game getting underway at 5pm on ITV 1.

GETTY IMAGES

Cristiano Rolando, 36, will spearhead Portugal’s attack[/caption]

Portugal and Hungary are joined in Group F by world champions France and former world champions Germany.

What’s the form?

European champions Portugal are unbeaten in their last six international fixtures.

And their last defeat came at the hands of the French back in November 2020.

Impressively, Hungary are unbeaten in their last 11 international fixtures, with their last defeat dating back to September 2020 against Russia.

Hungary did, however, draw their last warm-up fixture ahead of the tournament against the Republic of Ireland.

Who’s in and who’s out?

Portugal boss Fernando Santos has a very strong 26-man squad to pick from, including big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Ruben Dias.

Portugal‘s squad for this summer’s tournament is arguably stronger than the team which won Euro 2016.

As for Hungary, they have a handful of Bundesliga stars in their ranks this summer.

Peter Gulacsi (RB Leipzig), Willi Orban (RB Leipzig), Roland Sallai (Freiburg) and Adam Szalai (Mainz) will all be key for Hungary.

But star man Dominik Szoboszlai will miss the tournament after failing to recover from a groin injury.

The 20-year-old had a good start to the season for RB Salzburg, but shortly after moving to sister club RB Leipzig he picked up an injury.

Watch out for…

With a stronger team, Portugal should be winning games inside 90 minutes.

Back in 2016, they drew all of their group games, only won one game inside 90 minutes and somehow still won the tournament.

This time, Ronaldo has the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix supplying him with goal-scoring opportunities.

Hungary could spring a surprise shock with Portugal’s poor group stage showing in the last tournament.

He’s [Ronaldo] our leader, our captain. As usual he’s preparing in the best way. He’s one of the best professionals around. The numbers speak for themselves. He’s still going, he’s still a beast, so expect nothing else but greatness.”

Jose FontetalkSPORT

EPA

Boss Fernando Santos was in charge back in 2016 when Portugal beat favourites France in the Euros final[/caption]

If the game’s rubbish…

Check out anything Ronaldo – specifically his £17million car collection, or his uncertain future at Juventus.

The 36-year-old had a good individual season in Italy, but the team’s overall performance saw them drop the title to Inter Milan and finish 4th in the Serie A.

Ronaldo managed to find the back of the net 36 times this season across all competitions.

And his goals will be important for Portugal this summer.

REUTERS

Ronaldo’s future at Juventus is uncertain[/caption]

Fancy a punt?

Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.

Match odds:

  • Hungary to win 7/1
  • The Draw 16/5
  • Portugal to win 2/5

Euro 2020 outright odds:

  • Portugal 8/1
  • Hungary 500/1

*All odds from Paddy Power and correct at time of publication.

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Team news, injury updates, latest odds for France vs Germany at Euro 2020

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FIVE years on and France are looking to right the wrongs of 2016, and claim the crown they fumbled in the final against Portugal.

And they start off their group stage campaign against former world champions Germany.

GETTY IMAGES

Karim Benzema returns to France international duty for the first time in almost six years[/caption]

France and Germany are joined in Group F by defending European champions Portugal and underdogs Hungary.

The game is due to get underway at 8PM, and ITV 1 will be showing the game.

What’s the form?

Heading into this summer’s tournament, France have avoided defeat in their last 23 games dating back to November 2018.

Their last defeat came at the hands of the Netherlands in a 2-0 away defeat.

As for Germany, they have put in some poor showings at the last two major tournaments.

The Germans have won two of their last three games, with a defeat coming against North Macedonia.

Who’s in and who’s out

Germany manager Joachim Low has recalled Bundesliga duo Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels for this summer’s tournament.

Champions League-winning trio Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Antonio Rudiger have all received a call-up.

And there’s also a place for German wonderkid Jamal Musiala.

As for France, Karim Benzema returns to the squad after spending six years in exile.

The Real Madrid forward was arrested over the alleged blackmail of fellow French player Mathieu Valbuena – an allegation Benzema has always denied.

He also accused boss Didier Deschamps of bowing to pressure after he was dropped.

There’s a place for Borussia Monchengladbach‘s Marcus Thuram.

The young forward enjoyed a fruitful season in front of goal, scoring 11 goals and providing 12 assists across all competitions

Watch out for…

Keep an eye out for Musiala – it will be interesting to see whether he gets game time.

Also, it is Low’s last tournament in charge of Germany so they’ll be looking to give their coach a good send-off.

France are firm favourites to win the competition with their stacked team.

Kylian Mbappe is the obvious big-name player that springs to mind, and he’ll look to cement his place in world class status.

AFP

Musiala getting flicked by Germany and Bayern Munich team-mates Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry[/caption]

If the game’s rubbish…

Well, maybe look into Olivier Giroud and Mbappe’s little feud after the Bulgaria game.

Giroud appeared to hit out at Mbappe following the win against Bulgaria in the warm-up fixture ahead of the tournament.

And Mbappe has reportedly refused to accept an apology for the Chelsea forward.

Giroud told L’Equipe du Soir: “I was a little quiet because, sometimes, I make runs and the balls aren’t forthcoming.

“I am not saying that I always make the best runs, but I am seeking to offer solutions in the box.”

GETTY IMAGES

Both are stars for France with Giroud not far off the all-time France top-scorers record[/caption]

AFP

Giroud and Mbappe are reportedly feuding[/caption]

Fancy a punt?

Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.

Match odds:

  • France to win 13/8
  • The Draw 2/1
  • Germany to win 9/5

Euro 2020 outright odds:

  • France 9/2
  • Germany 8/1

*All odds from Paddy Power and correct at time of publication.

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