Gary Neville tells the Sky Sports Football Euros podcast how he thinks England will perform at Euro 2020, how the transfer talks will affect Harry Kane and his advice for the tournament.
Ahead of the big kickoff on Friday when Turkey face Italy in Rome and England’s opener against Croatia two days later at Wembley, Neville spoke to the first edition of the podcast to provide his opinion on England’s chances, her memories of a European Championship on home soil and much more.
Neville was the first guest on the Sky Sports Football Euros podcast, and many more will follow throughout the tournament. Stay on skysports.com to follow them all, as well as live blogs and reports from every Euro 2020 game from June 11 to July 11.
Listen to the Sky Sports Football Euros podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox
Can England lift the trophy?
I will say yes. It would take a lot of luck, an extraordinary effort, things would go their way, but I’m going to say in a Wembley stadium full of English fans on the right day, we saw Chelsea do Man City last week, so if you think that ‘was very unlikely for most people before the game, it could definitely happen.
I don’t think winning England would be a shock or a surprise. After reaching a World Cup semi-final three years ago, they are now expected. They don’t go out there thinking ‘I hope we get to the quarterfinals’, there’s a wait because of what they did three years ago.
The fact that the players are there with the talent that we have, and the question is on Harry Maguire, but I would say the expectation should be to get to the semi-finals or the final. This is what they are used to. They lived this World Cup in Moscow, they will think they can do it again.
Our strengths are the talented players in the front part of the pitch. We have some really good full-backs, but we really have to think about the pair of center-backs or the three-defenders, that’s where the real conundrum lies for Gareth, adjusting between five and four from game to game. other, and the strength of the opposition will also rely heavily on this front.
But losing Harry Maguire, Carra and I had a heated debate about it on MNF six to eight weeks ago, where I said I felt he was the most important player on the team.
Considering the fact that I think Harry Kane is the better player, if Kane got injured there were options where England would suffer, but not as much as losing Maguire as center-back. This means Southgate brought in Ben White and will likely have to come back at three.
I don’t think there is a natural partner who is really strong enough in the big games of this tournament to partner with John Stones. For me, this is the big deal. How far away is he, when can they get him back in shape, how will it be mid-tournament which has always been difficult in the past. These are the real concerns I have.
I think Gareth will be pragmatic, play against France or Belgium, you are not going to dominate the ball so much and you will be out of possession. You need to make sure you maintain a strong defense. That’s not to say you don’t win the game, but winning the game through set pieces or counterattack, or moments in the game, is a different proposition for controlling the game.
Even though Stones and Maguire were center-backs, I think in some games they should be more defensive and proactive, but it’s always been the same; you have to adapt. They’re horses for lessons, but right now the two central midfielders, Rice and Phillips, have a lot of work to do. I don’t think we’ll see creative midfielders in the middle of the midfield for the duration of the tournament, I think they’ll be there to protect the back two or three to have the platform from which to go. to build.
Will the transfer conversation be a distraction for Kane?
I think if he was a player who craved attention, or was emotional about it, that would be a big problem. He’s not going to break his stride, Southgate isn’t going to bother for a moment. Kane is a complete professional, totally focused.
He will not consider his future at this tournament. He knows how important it is to him and his country, and he loves his country. It would be different if he was a more emotional, more scrutinized player in the media when he is so sure and stable in his way of doing things.
Alan Shearer had tournaments with speculation hanging over him and I put them in the same category – frosty, don’t let things affect them. Southgate would never mind distraction for him a million years from now. He will be absolutely determined to win this tournament for his country.
“Modric is a game-changer; the one you can’t stop ‘
Producing talented players is one thing, but having a real spirit for the nation, for the country, I was part of Euro 1996 where the Croatian fans burst onto the scene, I think it was the first time that ‘we saw them in a tournament that was an incredible thing.
They have always had talented players, obviously beating England in the semi-finals three years ago. There was disappointment but they were just better. As the game got bigger, as it headed towards the end, their midfielder got the upper hand, started to change the game and wear us out.
Forget the 5 million people, this is a very good group of players, who desperately want to do well for their country.
With Modric, you have a player who has seen every game, every situation. He knows he composed at the right time, and that’s a problem for England. If that moment of the game arrives, a draw 10 minutes from the end, he’s in and around the last third, he’s the one who will put this pass, who will put this ball in the box. He will win that free kick and take it. These players are a game changer, the ones you can’t stop.
I think it was in 1998 that we faced an aging Georgi Hagi for Romania, and we ended up with a really disappointing result. When you have these great, great players, even just one on a team, they can make a huge difference to the group around them. They simply thrive on them.
He is worshiped not only in his own country but all over Europe. He is a great danger to England, and one that must be hushed up.
“Attacking talents can be enlightened as in 1996”
The first game against Switzerland that we drew was a really disappointing start and we had very bad press for a week before the game against Scotland. We also suffered a lot in this game, Scotland missed a penalty, they played this game very well. People remember Gazza’s celebration, but his purpose lit up the tournament for us. It lit up all of Europe at that time, I imagine, it was such a special goal. The crowd, the atmosphere, was amazing.
We have players who can do that in Foden, Grealish, Rashford, Sterling, Kane, players who can light up this tournament, deliver at that time, and light up a nation. We need it badly this summer. People are wondering right now how Rashford, Sterling, Foden, Mount and Grealish fit into this squad, Sancho too, but the good thing is we have these players in abundance, and Harry Kane up there to be the point. central attack.
It’s a huge opportunity for us, if we can stay stable at the back, get the ball in the right areas, we have a great chance. I wouldn’t put these players ahead of Ronaldo and Messi, far from it, they’re young and haven’t proven it yet, but they can produce moments that will take them to this stratosphere in the next five or 10 years. if they can deliver on this step consistently.
Neville’s tip for the tournament
I can’t look beyond France, really. I can not. The experience, the winning mentality, the personalities they have, the pace and the goals, smart, smart, you think they could play in any type of game, this France team.
They could play against a team that is more direct, a team that has let them out, a team that is trying to control possession. It’s an adaptable team. I don’t think they would care who they play.
Physically they are strong, mentally they are strong, and I think that if you finish in front of France, you win it.
Sky Sports Football Euros podcast: Gary Neville on England’s chances, why France are favorites and how Euro 2020 can uplift the nation
Sky Sports Expert Gary Neville (5:07) joined Pierre Smith on the Sky Sports Football Euros Podcast to prepare for the big kickoff of Euro 2020. Neville has his say on England’s strengths and weaknesses, what they will have to do to beat the French favorites for the title, and how this young group talented English players can boost the morale of the whole nation.
During the podcast we also learn how Scotland and Wales (22.54) Sky Sports News journalists emerge as a result of their campaigns, Charles paterson and Geraint Hugues. More Valentina fass of the sky Italy and Uli kohler of the sky Germany (56,39) give us the continent’s perspective on what their own nations look like.
Sky Sports Associate Football Editor Kate burlaga and football writer Ben Patterns will also share their top tournament tips, including who will be lifting the trophy on July 11 – and which players will light up the tournament (1.09: 35).
Listen to the Sky Sports Football Euros podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox