England’s Euro 2020 finals draw is packed with advantages. However, it also came with a potentially painful sting in the tail for Southgate’s aspirations to win a first major tournament in 54 years.
Southgate wants to take England one step further than the run to the World Cup semi-final in Russia in 2018. Playing every group game at Wembley gives them the perfect platform.
England will face Moscow in their first Group D game at Wembley on 14th June. The country will play these matches before facing the Czech Republic and the winner of a play-off path that includes Scotland, Israel, Norway and Serbia.
On the surface, this looks like a favorable and manageable draw. Simply enough, there may just be a large black cloud on England’s horizon.
Southgate and FA, are preparing for the big Wembley games that will grip the nation.
If England emerges from Group D as winners, they will face the sort of opponents that have so often been their undoing and downfall when the pressure has been on in the past.
In this eventually, they will face the runners-up in Group F. This means, their last 16 opponents in Dublin could be France, Portugal or Germany.
The very names hold uncomfortable memories for England. They are destined to provide the acid test of Southgate’s claim that they are moving close to that elite group.
England has struggled with the class acts of European international football before. This had been proved by Croatia in Russia and the emerging Netherlands at the inaugural Uefa Nations League in Portugal last June.
Just one look beyond the group will see very large bumps in the road. Southgate endeavors to navigate a path to Euro 2020 glory.