Arsene Wenger: Euro 2020 is Sterling and Insigne’s tournament
Wenger has referred to Euro 2020 as a tournament of “short-sized players,” referring to finalists Sterling and Insigne.
The pan-European games come to an end this Sunday at Wembley Stadium, with hosts England competing in their first major tournament final since 1966. Southgate’s team will face Italy, who are attempting to join France and Germany as the only European and World champions.
Roberto Mancini’s team has won over many neutrals with their aggressive attacking approach, which differs from past Azzurri squads. Italy’s opening win over Turkey, in which they scored at least three goals for the first time in a single European Championship game, exemplified this argument perfectly.
On Sunday’s opponents, they started slowly, with 1-0 victory over Croatia and the Czech Republic following a 0-0 stalemate with Scotland, but the Three Lions were indebted to Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, who has silenced his detractors on both occasions.
The 26-year-old attacker also scored in England’s spectacular round-of-16 victory against Germany, and his Napoli rival Insigne proved too tough for Belgium in the next round. As a result, Wenger believes that this summer has been about them and others of similar stature, citing the absence of counter-attacks completed following lengthy runs as evidence.
“It’s the first time a tournament is played with five substitutes. It has reduced the level of fatigue because when you play with three, you play only two because the last one you have to change in the last five to ten minutes in case you have an injury. It has reduced the difference between the teams,” he told beIN SPORTS.
“The second thing I’ve noticed in this tournament, which is quite interesting, the fewer goals scored on the counter-attack with long runs. It is basically the tournament of the short-sized players who are very quick and agile in small spaces. It is the tournament of Sterling, Insigne, Pedri and Damsgaard.
“Players who are very quick off the mark and very agile in small spaces because you always play against ten players in the final third and these players are the players in this tournament like Jordi Alba who are quick off the mark in the last three or four meters who are technically good. These players have made the difference.”
Sterling comes of age
Raheem Sterling’s international career has been crammed with many ups and downs. Often criticised for not bringing his club form whenever representing England, the Londoner broke his duck when scoring against Croatia earlier this month. it had been the first time Sterling had netted at a serious international tournament. He’s since registered a strike past the Czech Republic and Germany before playing a key role within the Three Lions’ semi-final convert Denmark.
The speedster first forced Simon Kjaer into an own-goal to equalize for England, before winning a controversial penalty deep into extra-time which Harry Kane did not convert, though Kasper Schmeichel’s inability to either catch the ball or parry away safely presented the Tottenman marksman a second chance and he obliged.
Southgate’s team ran out 2-1 winners and Sterling was adamant Dutch referee Danny Makkelie made the proper call. “I went into the box and he stuck his right leg out, and it touched my leg so it had been a transparent penalty,” he said post-match.
The main target of the Three Lions will now get on ending England’s 55-year await a serious international title.
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