Connect with us

EURO 2024

Guardiola tips England for Euro success

Published

on

England can win this year’s European Championship and put an end to their series of near misses in major competitions, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said.

Under Gareth Southgate, England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup, as well as making it to the Euro 2020 final, where they lost to Italy.

Guardiola said England’s performances mirrored Manchester City’s showings in the Champions League, which they won for the first time last season after years of close misses.

“The national team? Really good. But it’s not just the talent of the strikers, it’s the whole package, the whole group. Gareth knows perfectly what he has to do,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of his side’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“I have the feeling, everyone has the feeling, that the England national team, in the last events, the World Cup and European Championships, they made steps. They are on the verge, they are really close. They lost a final and got to a semi-final.

Advertisement

“When you arrive at these stages every two years, it’s going to happen. It’s quite similar to us – we were close and, in the end, we lifted it. Just believe it. If they believe it they can do it, believe it and they can do it.”

England are grouped with Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia at Euro 2024 in Germany, which begins on June 14.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

EURO 2024

Germany’s Beckenbauer honoured in Euro 2024 opening ceremony

Published

on

UEFA paid tribute to Germany’s late World Cup-winning captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer during the Euro 2024 opening ceremony on Friday, with fans applauding as videos of one of Germany’s greatest players were shown in the Munich stadium.

“We will never forget you,” said an announcement.

Beckenbauer, who died in January aged 78, captained West Germany to European Championship victory in 1972 and a World Cup success in 1974 before winning the World Cup as national team manager in 1990.

“Der Kaiser”, as he was nicknamed for his imperious playing style and command of the game, was also a stalwart of the Bayern Munich team who won the European Cup three times in a row from 1974-76.

His wife Heidi joined Bernard Dietz and Juergen Klinsmann, who captained the Germany sides that won Euro 1980 and Euro 1996, in bringing the Henri Delaunay Cup – the trophy which will be presented to Euro 2024’s winning team – on to the pitch.

Advertisement

-Reuters

Continue Reading

EURO 2024

England’s soccer fortunes add sporting drama to UK election

Published

on

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak poses with England striker Harry Kane and England Manager Gareth Southgate during a visit to St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent, Britain, October 10, 2023. DARREN STAPLES/Pool via REUTERS/files

Does British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak risk scoring an own goal by calling an election during the 2024 European Championship soccer tournament in July?Sunak, himself a soccer fan, might be hoping for a boost to his struggling campaign if England do well, although whether there really is a link between sport and elections is disputed by experts.

Given the national team’s habit of morale-busting defeats in major tournaments, the chance of another hit to the English psyche appears just as likely a backdrop to the election.

On a positive note, however, England, runners-up three years ago, are among the favourites under manager Gareth Southgate with a team full of in-form attacking players including Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka.

Sunak unexpectedly called a national election for July 4 when the European Championship in Germany will be entering its most exciting phase.

Voters will head to the polls four or five days after England’s first knockout match, assuming the team avoid the embarrassment of elimination in the group stage.

Advertisement

There is also a chance England will have been pitted against their hosts and old rivals Germany in that last-16 game, a prospect that will fill many fans with dread.

Scotland are competing in the tournament too, potentially offering relief to the ruling Scottish National Party which, like Sunak’s Conservatives, is floundering in opinion polls.

Political pundits have offered non-sporting explanations for Sunak’s decision to call an early election, including a fall in Britain’s once double-digit inflation to close to 2% and signs that his flagship plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda might not get off the ground.

The timing has raised eyebrows, however, for the unusual overlap of an election campaign with the summer sporting calendar.

That has raised memories of one of the most painful of England’s defeats.

Advertisement

In June 1970, a 3-2 loss to West Germany in a World Cup quarter-final was followed four days later by a shock election defeat for incumbent Prime Minister Harold Wilson, triggering debate about the impact of the match.

LINK OR NO LINK?

Much has been written since about a possible link between sport and elections.

A 2010 paper by academics at Stanford and Loyola Marymount University in the United States said wins for local college American football teams earned political incumbents an extra 1.61 percentage points of support in subsequent Senate, gubernatorial and presidential elections.

Others have found no clear connection.

Stefan Mueller and Liam Kneafsey, at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, mapped Irish election outcomes over decades with Gaelic football and hurling match results and found no correlation with support for incumbents or ruling party politicians.

Advertisement

Kneafsey said there were signs that some kind of influence on voters did occur.

“Whether they actually switch their votes, that’s probably a higher bar to clear and certainly the results there are inconclusive,” he said.

While that debate continues, it is clear that politics do weigh on the minds of soccer fans.

At a Euro 2016 match, three days after Britain’s shock Brexit referendum decision, many England fans joined in a crude chant directed at the European Union which ended with the words: “We all voted out”. England were beaten 2-1 by underdogs Iceland and were knocked out of the competition.

Another risk for Sunak is that sports fans resent his scheduling of the election at a time when not only Euro 2024 is taking place – from June 14-July 14 – but also the Wimbledon tennis championships which run from July 1-14.

Advertisement

Campaigning will also overlap with cricket’s T20 World Cup involving England and Scotland from June 2-29.

Some academics will be happy, however, as they will be able to do more research into the links between sport and voting patterns.

“We could actually do with politicians having more elections during this time to definitively test this,” Kneafsey said.

-Reuters

Advertisement
Continue Reading

EURO 2024

Germany name four goalkeepers in Euro 2024 squad

Published

on

 LaLiga - Girona v FC Barcelona - Estadi Montilivi, Girona, Spain - May 4, 2024 FC Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Albert

Hosts Germany will have four goalkeepers at Euro 2024 but there were few other surprises in coach Julian Nagelsmann’s preliminary squad unveiled on Thursday.

VfB Stuttgart keeper Alexander Nuebel was named along with Manuel Neuer, Oliver Baumann and Marc-Andre ter Stegen as Nagelsmann otherwise largely showed faith in the players he has used over the past seven months.

“When you have this structure which is still growing but fragile after our performances in March, bringing in new elements could trigger an implosion of that structure and you would have to start from scratch,” the coach said ahead of his first international tournament.

Germany beat France and Netherlands in back-to-back friendlies in March, their best results for some time, and the three-times European champions have not won a major trophy since the 2014 World Cup.

Nagelsmann said having four keepers was crucial for spreading the workload during the tournament.

Advertisement

“We have nominated four goalkeepers and we will go with four to the tournament. Nuebel has deserved the nomination,” Nagelsmann said.

“Why four keepers? You can have goalkeepers in training as well and Manuel (Neuer) does not always have to do it. We can control training and spread the load.

“That means 22 infield players. I can live with that very well. We can still do proper training with at least 20 infield players if some are missing.”

In veterans Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Neuer, there are three 2014 world champions in the 27-man squad which must be cut to 26 before the tournament.

Aleksandar Pavlovic, 20, who missed the March friendlies through injury and is still waiting for his first cap, earned a place following his superb form for Bayern Munich.

Advertisement

Robert Andrich, Florian Wirtz and Jonathan Tah are the Bayer Leverkusen players in the squad having helped the Bundesliga champions go through the season unbeaten across all competitions.

The two most notable absences were Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League finalist Mats Hummels and Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka who narrowly missed the cut.

Germany kick off their Group A campaign in the tournament opener against Scotland on June 14. They also play Hungary and Switzerland in the first stage.

-Reuters

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Most Viewed