It feels like a morning of mourning – Gareth Southgate’s men really had us thinking they could do it – like really really.
But it’s been wonderful indulging in the dream and getting behind a team that truly deserved our support as a nation. Jordan Pickford, Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Harry McGuire all had an amazing tournament, providing a real backbone to the team that we haven’t seen for years. Southgate himself will go down as a hero and the famous ‘waistcoat’ is certain to take on a life of its own.
England – Croatia – the match itself
Perhaps England’s early free kick was a curse as opposed to a blessing, putting too much pressure on to defend and not instilling enough urgency on the attacking front. This was the first match in the tournament where England’s defence looked vulnerable though Pickford is certainly not included in this criticism. Harry Kane failed to convert a crucial chance and some poor clearances forced England to work harder than they otherwise would have needed to. The silver lining? Only 2 years until Euro 2020….
Overall thoughts: England’s performance in the tournament
Failing to convert more chances is ultimately what led to England’s demise, not just in this match but throughout the tournament. England only managed to score 4 goals from open play and much of the fault here lies with Sterling who let his team down, failing to convert chances and putting in some poor examples of how to handle the ball on the wing. Still, England were the youngest team in the tournament and you wouldn’t have thought it with the level of maturity they applied to their game.
Croatia have not made it easy for themselves, winning all 3 of their knockout games in extra time – providing they aren’t exhausted, the Cup could go to a country with a population of 4 million. France seem to have got their class and style back in recent years and will bring the art of football to the final though they must not underestimate a Croatian side who are very sure of themselves at the moment.