An England-Scotland so British, even in the weather: in the rain, the «Three Lions» English were muzzled (0-0) without difficulty by their Scottish neighbors at the end of a bitter duel Friday at Wembley, while the question of the coronavirus invites itself again in this Euro.
Gareth Southgate’s England failed to imitate Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, other favorites who had validated their ticket for the round of 16 on Wednesday and Thursday in their second match.
Harry Kane and his teammates will have to wait for their third and last group game on Tuesday against the Czech Republic to qualify. More worryingly, they missed out on their match and delivered a very disappointing performance for a title contender.
This 115th episode of football’s longest-running rivalry, 149 years after playing in Glasgow on November 30, 1872, the first international match in history will not be remembered.
In any case, not for the English fans who are not ready to forget the previous clash between the two rivals in a Euro, in 1996, won 2-1 and illuminated by the goal and the celebrations of Paul Gascoigne.
Their team, victorious over Croatia (1-0) last Sunday, certainly dominated the debates, but it showed worrying signs of feverishness and physical wear, and could very well have bowed.
However, it was England who created the first and most beautiful scoring opportunity when John Stones took a corner with a header (12th), but the ball crashed into the left upright of David Marshall, who was beaten. .
But Scotland easily muzzled the overly stereotypical English attacks and by proceeding against it, almost reduced Wembley and its 22,500 spectators, including 2,500 Scots, to silence. It took a reflex stop by Jordan Pickford to deflect a volley from Stephen O’Donnell (29th) or that defender Reece James saved on his line in the second half.
Out of inspiration, like their captain Kane, exhausted and replaced by Marcus Rashford (74th), the English even left the initiative to the Scots in their last quarter of an hour, which won them back the changing rooms under the whistles of their supporters at the final whistle.
“This draw is probably the result which reflects the course of the match, the Scots defended very well and we did not deliver our best game”, analyzed after the meeting Kane.
“Scotland were playing to stay alive in this tournament, we didn’t get the result we wanted but it brings us closer to qualifying”, he added.
Everything remains possible in this group D, with England and the Czech Republic at four points, while Croatia, vice-world champions 2018 had to be content in Glasgow with a draw against the Czechs who took the advantage. , from the penalty spot, by Patrik Schick (37th) for his third goal of the tournament, which places him at the top of the scorers standings.
Ivan Perisic equalized at the start of the second half (47th), but the Croats only have one point like Scotland which they will have to beat on Tuesday at Hampden Park to hope to reach the round of 16.
Johnson, Merkel et Macron
In the first match of the day, Sweden scored only one goal, from a penalty by Emil Forsberg (77th), but dominated Slovakia who had all the trouble in the world to master the excellent Alexander Isak.
The Swedes, who neutralized Spain (0-0) for their first match, lead Group E with four points, ahead of Slovakia (3 pts), Spain (1 pt) and Poland (0 pt) .
This Euro, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus, may not be done with the pandemic and with politics.
While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned he is not ready to sacrifice public health and reduce health restrictions, UEFA is reportedly considering moving the semi-finals and final scheduled at Wembley to Budapest.
“We will do whatever we need to protect the country from Covid”, hammered the Prime Minister who postponed for four weeks, until July 19, the lifting of the last restrictions in England where the Delta variant has caused a rise in infections.
In Hungary, on the other hand, there are no conditions for the entry into its territory of travelers from the Schengen area and no gauge for this Euro in the Budapest stadium which hosted more than 60,000 spectators for the Hungary-Portugal match.
The Euro was invited even into the discussions in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron who called for caution in the face of the coronavirus.
“When I see full stadiums in other European countries, I’m a little skeptical”, even underlined Ms. Merkel, in an obvious reference to Hungary.