Wow. Just … Wow. No, really. Did anyone expect this? Anyone?! For days, weeks, months leading up to the Euros, we’ve seen this three-ring circus act from the English. We’ve wondered who would be their captain, who would be their manager even. Then the injuries, the roster changes… Everyone I’m sure was wondering what in the hell England was doing and how in the hell they would make it out of the group.
They’re doing it in style, that’s how, and only as England can.
Going up against Sweden today was not going to be easy. Zlatan on the front line is scary and while I’m sure a lot of people aren’t too familiar with the Swedes, trust me when I say you don’t want to be caught napping around them. They are lethal when gunning for a win. Naturally, this match would be interesting. But who would have thought it would be like this?
First off, as I saw many comment on Twitter, England manager Roy Hodgson seemed to be thinking “Welp, if it worked for the Spanish, it’ll work for us,” when he put Andy Carroll up front. Many English fans and others believe Carroll – like Fernando Torres – cost a lot of money and didn’t put anything up to show for it. But, like Torres, Andy decided he was going to show up and get a little confidence back. His first goal, which came off a gorgeous assist from his club and team captain Steven Gerrard, was a damn powerful header and shocked everyone. From the Sweden-dominated stands to all of us at home, I think the general feeling was “Holy. Crap.”
Side note – Can everyone please admit that Steven Gerrard has not only stepped up to the plate as England’s captain, but he’s done a hell of a job of it? I have a friend who’s a Liverpool fan and will get joy from this from me, but after seeing Gerrard’s performance in the last two England games, I think it is worth stating. Gerrard is a hell of a captain, a damn good player and he’s proving it here. Forget if you like Liverpool or not – admit it when you see a great player making a difference in a game, because that’s exactly what Gerrard is doing.
The third and final goal from England which gave them the 3-2 win over Sweden was nothing short of spectacular. It came from Danny Welbeck and how he did it, I’m still not sure. I’ve watched the clip a dozen times, I promise. It’s pure class between him and Theo Walcott. It should also be said that Walcott came on as a sub in the second half and then quickly scored a goal before setting up this amazing bit of play. He definitely changed the game in England’s favor in the second half.
Back to the Welbeck goal: it was a back heel goal. Yes, you read that right. I’m not sure how he pulled it off, but it was a stunner and I think summarized the game for the English; being strong, maybe getting a little scary in the middle, but having a solid statement in the finish.
While a lot of us – myself included – didn’t really expect much from the Three Lions on this campaign, I think we can admit, they are coming to life here. It’s not pretty or perfect yet – looking at you Glen Johnson – and there’s a lot to be scared of and to work on. But hopefully they’ve shaken the headlines and gotten past their differences. Seeing all the players from several different clubs – Carroll from Liverpool, Welbeck from United and Walcott from Arsenal – celebrate together, as a team, is something I think is very encouraging.
I know the Group of Death is interesting to all, but man, after today’s performance from England, I have to say Group D is getting interesting. And England can claim a lot of credit for that.