Last night, Gareth Southgate’s men did it. They took their place amongst the final 16 teams remaining in Euro 2020 – and they didn’t even need to kick a ball to get there.
The structure of this year’s international tournament means that whilst the top two teams in each group automatically go through to the next round, four of the best third-placed teams also accompany them.
Monday’s results saw Ukraine surrender Group C’s second spot to Austria, whilst Finland were leapfrogged by Denmark in Group B.
This meant Ukraine and Finland finished third in their respective groups on three points apiece.
England, meanwhile, already have four points.
What this all means is that Southgate’s men can – at worst – finish third and still go through.
England will join Wales, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Austria, Netherlands and Belgium in the next round of the tournament – having already amassed enough points in their own group to book a spot in the knockout stages.
But where exactly they will end up in the final group table – and who they will play in the final 16 – is not so certain.
England’s next fixture will be determined by their result against group leaders Czech Republic tonight (June 22) – who are also through.
An England win would see them top the group – meaning they would face the Group F runner-up at Wembley next week. This could be world champions France, reigning Euros champions Portugal, Germany or Hungary.
No easy games there.
If England fail to beat Czech Republic, they could finish second – meaning a fixture against the runners-up from Group E in Copenhagen.
That would be either Spain, Slovakia, Sweden or Poland.
If the Three Lions finish third, they could also end up meeting any of those same four nations. Other possible opponents include the Netherlands and Belgium.
Elsewhere in their group, England’s neighbours Scotland square off against Croatia – knowing that anything less than a win will signal the end of their Euros campaign.
Both England and Scotland are reeling from a positive COVID-19 test from Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour, who is judged to have been in close contact with Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount during the 0-0 draw between the home nations last weekend.
All three players now have to isolate and may be unavailable for selection.
England play Czech Republic tonight at Wembley in the final Group D game. Kick-off is 8pm and the match will be broadcast on ITV.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
Erling Haaland breaks yet another goalscoring record in the Champions League
Erling Haaland is back to business as per usual, a.k.a. breaking records left, right and centre — this time in the Champions League following Manchester City’s incredible comeback against RB Leipzig.
Haaland was one of three different names on the scoresheet during their 3-2 win over the Bundesliga side along with Stockport’s very own Phil Foden and fellow striker Julián Álvarez, and while both are becoming increasingly more prolific, it was the big blonde bagsman who got them on their way.
Scoring in the 54th minute to get things moving, the Norwegian number nine notched what was his 40th goal in the Champions League, becoming the quickest player to do so in just 35 games.
To put that in context of where he already ranks amongst the great goalscorers of years gone by, not only did he manage 40 goals in 35 appearances in the UCL but he also did it in a whole 10 games fewer than the next fastest, Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy. Unreal.
To be honest, Haaland broke so many records in his first year at the Etihad — such as most goals by a Man City player in a single campaign, most goals in a Premier League season and fastest to player to reach three hattricks, just to name a few — nothing really surprise us anymore.
Now on 19 goals and four assists all told in the opening 20 games of 23/24 and well on course for a second consecutive golden boot, while we’ll have to wait and see if he can equal or better his incredible tally of 63 goal contributions in all competitions, if there’s anyone that can do it’s him.
Haaland’s inevitability and Pep Guardiola‘s other in-form forwards resulted in the Blues not only securing qualification for the knockout stages but a top spot finish in their group after already putting a whole six points between them and the German team with a game to spare.
As for domestically, the treble-winners will hope to put last weekend’s 1-1 draw against title rivals Liverpool behind them and notch a victory over Spurs whose impressive start to the season is now begin to stutter following a number of injuries and dip in form.
City sit in second place on 29 points and just one point behind league leaders Arsenal who face Wolves on Saturday after their own Champions League fixture against RC Lens on Wednesday night.
It’s neck and neck as we barrel towards the Christmas period and, from a neutrals point of view, that’s what we love to see.
You can watch the full highlights of City’s fightback against Leipzig down below:
Featured Images — Man City (via Instagram)/Erling Haaland (via X)
Alejandro Garnacho gives the same boots he scored his overhead kick with to a young Man United fan
As if Manchester United supporters weren’t already ridiculously enamoured with their exciting young starlet, Alejandro Garnacho made an incredible gesture to a young fan after gifting him a pair of the very same boots he scored his incredible overhead kick with this past weekend.
In case you somehow missed it on Sunday, Garnacho scored one of the great Premier League, perhaps one of the best we’ve ever seen full stop, after burying an unbelievably beautiful bicycle kick into the far corner during Man United’s 3-0 win over Everton.
The 19-year-old is already a firm favourite amongst United fans and is tipped to do big things in his career after impressing in the first couple of years of his senior career, but interactions with wide-eyed little fans like this prove exactly why he has become so loved so quickly.
Surprising the die-hard young fans, the Standley boys — simply known as Harry and George to thousands of followers across multiple social media channels run by their parents — Garnacho doesn’t just stop to say hello to the loyal little Reds, he gives George a pair of the exact Nike Mercurial boots he wore when he screamed home that unforgettable finish. As you can expect, it blows his tiny mind.
After telling the Argentine winger that his overhead kick was “the best goal [he’d] ever seen“, Garnacho then hands his smiley superfan an orange Nike box containing the boots through the window, to which he immediately replies that he “asked for these” for Christmas this year.
We were very much the same at your age, George — Christmas and birthdays were all about getting all the gear to convince our mates we were the next Rooney.
Revealing not only that they were the very same boots he was wearing when he leapt like a salmon for that now iconic overhead kick but that he had already signed his autograph on them, along with a personal message on the box it didn’t take long for the seven-year-old to start crying tears of joy at his out of the blue birthday present.
As mum continues to capture his reaction, George simply says, “I’m so happy”, before telling his footballing hero how much he loves him and calling him “the best in the world”. It is by no means the first time we’ve stumbled across the two very cute little kids.
This is also isn’t George and Garnacho’s first meeting either; far from it, as both he and his older brother Harry regularly wait outside Carrington and Old Trafford to meet their Man United idols — with the exciting youngster having been at the top of the list since he burst onto the scene.
Whilst the pair are also self-proclaimed Lisandro Martinez and Jadon Sancho superfans, over the past season or so in particular, Garnacho and George have developed a real bond and he has had the opportunity to meet the no.17 on a number of occasions.
We will never, EVER get tired of seeing little kids meeting their heroes — fair play to the young man for taking the time to make the little lad a day he’ll never forget. Happy birthday, George!
You can watch the highlights from the Red Devils’ away win against Everton down below. Any excuse to watch back that goal, to be honest.