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.
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