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Amid hope and doubts, England debuts at Euro-2024 against Serbia

Amid hope and doubts, England debuts at Euro-2024 against Serbia

England, led by Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham, debuts at Euro 2024 in Germany amid hopes and doubts, especially in defense, this Sunday at 4pm (Brasília time) in Gelsenkirchen in Group C against Serbia, in a match high risk according to German authorities.

The current European runners-up have a spectacular squad, especially in attack, but they face great pressure to manage, three years after their defeat in the final against Italy on penalties at Wembley.

‘Enjoy the pressure’

“When you are one of the favorites, you have to appreciate that pressure”, declared on Friday goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, already a starter in the 2018 World Cup (in which England reached the semi-finals), in the 2021 Euro Cup (final) and in the 2022 World Cup (quarterfinals).

For coach Gareth Southgate, whose contract ends in December, the objective is to break once and for all the eternal drought of titles that the inventors of football have suffered since winning the 1966 World Cup at home.

On paper, England are big favorites alongside France and Germany, who debuted on Friday with a 5-1 rout of Scotland.

Southgate’s team is led by their captain Kane along with Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka, a quartet who arrive with 114 goals scored this season.

His attacking potential is “one of the best, if not the best, in world football”, said Alan Shearer, one of the Three Lions’ all-time top scorers, to the BBC.

But a large arsenal is not enough to win and the latest results remind us of this: just one victory in five games.

This run of poor results started with a 1-1 draw against North Macedonia and ended with a 1-0 defeat against Iceland at Wembley.

Permeable defense

Perhaps most worrying is the fact that England are lacking in defense, having conceded at least one goal in five of their last seven games.

A strong man in defense in recent years, Harry Maguire, with a calf injury, is missing and his former teammate John Stones has not had continuity in recent months. The only left-back in the squad, Luke Shaw, has not played an official match since February.

Southgate will have to choose for this position between the right-handed Kieran Trippier or bet on Marc Guehi, 23 years old and inexperienced, Crystal Palace’s central defender.

Serbia, 33rd in the FIFA rankings, has attackers who can worry Southgate, as well as great effectiveness in the air. A third of his 15 goals in qualifying came from his head.

Coach Dragan Stojkovic has high-level players such as Dusan Tadic (Fenerbahce), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic (Al-Hilal), but above all Juventus center forward Dusan Vlahovic, who at 24 years of age arrives at the European Championship to consolidate himself as one of the greatest strikers on the world stage.

Off the field, the match was classified as high risk, with the possible presence of ‘ultras’, mainly on the Serbian side.

For “security reasons”, fans will only be able to buy beer with a reduced alcohol content at the stadium and will have their consumption limited to two units, Gelsenkirchen police announced.

Source: Gazetaesportiva

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