Scouting Our Reds – Euro 2020 And Copa AmericaGriffochaz
The feast of summer football is officially over as Italy and Argentina celebrate winning the Euros and Copa America respectively.
It’s been a summer of nail-biting action and passionate support for your country but with the return of club football on the horizon, it’s time to look back at all the United players and how they did representing their countries colours.
Still in the midst of yet another penalty shootout heartbreak, England got within touching distance of winning their first European Championships. Taking the final all the way to penalties in your own back yard and still walking away with a silver medal just epitomises England and international football. However, while the pain is still as present as ever, we can also reflect on how important Man United’s players were in the tournament for The Three Lions.
Luke Shaw was a strong contender for Player of the Tournament and may have been given the award if England brought it home and here is why. Against Scotland and Czech Republic he was one of the only players to stand out and then versus Germany, he put in a monster display which saw him assist Raheem Sterling’s opener all before playing a big part in Harry Kane’s second goal by assisting the assist of Jack Grealish. Then in the quarters he assisted twice in England’s 4-0 drubbing of Ukraine in another top display, in which even a certain Portuguese manager had praise for him. Denmark in the semi-final was one of his quieter affairs despite giving away the controversial free kick that led to the Danish goal. His crowning moment came two minutes into the final where he half volleyed a Kieran Trippier cross to give England a historic 1-0 lead but unfortunately we all know how that ended.
Harry Maguire was a huge doubt for the tournament and was in a race to try and get back fit for the latter stages of the competition. Despite Tyrone Mings putting in a solid shift in his absence, Maguire came back in against Czech Republic and turned England up a notch. Not only does Harry offer strength in defence but his ability to move the ball up the field is priceless in a system like England’s. He was one of the best players in the match against Germany and was awarded Star of the Match against Ukraine after scoring a bullet header. Denmark was another strong game for Slabhead and again was an ever presence in the final. WhoScored had him as the second highest rated player on average for the whole tournament only behind Cristiano Ronaldo, which is impressive considering he was absent for the opening two games.
Marcus Rashford had a tournament to forget. His minimal involvement up until the final could be seen as a blessing due to the ongoing injury he has been playing with however his summer was summed up in the biggest of moments. Gareth Southgate brought Rashford on to take a penalty in the final shootout and to English disappointment, the off-field hero smashed his spot kick against the post after beating the towering Donnarumma. He was the only player in the shootout to miss the target from 12 yards and this burden will take many years for him to lift. We stand with you Marcus.
Jadon Sancho had a very similar arc to Rashford in this tournament with his best performance coming in the game he started against Ukraine. He showed United fans exactly what they were getting with his pace and skill and ability to create from nothing. His decisive moment also came in the dreaded shootout against Italy when Jadon was also subbed on to take one before having his saved.
Wales had a successful group stage when they managed to finish 2nd in a group with eventual winners Italy, giant killers Switzerland and an on paper good Turkish side. Their downfall was against Denmark when they lost 4-0 after a controversial Ethan Ampadu red card.
Daniel James was an eye test player in the Euros. Despite not getting a goal or assist in the tournament, James was key to how Wales played and didn’t look out of place in an attack that featured Gareth Bale.
Dylan Levitt only featured for a few minutes in the tournament but the experience he had in those few minutes will stand him in good stead for a promising future career with the Welsh side.
A defensive approach won Sweden Group E after a 0-0 with Spain, 1-0 win over Slovakia and a 3-2 win over Poland. Despite a good group stage, they fell at the first knockout hurdle with a late extra time winner by Ukraine.
Victor Lindelof was given Star of the Match when Sweden drew 0-0 with Spain and was a key part in the defensive setup that the Swedes adopted this summer. He gave his country a platform in which to play and was a vital player in Sweden’s successful group stage campaign.
Tournament favourites France had the most disappointing tournament of all. After a lacklustre performance in the group stage, many thought France would do what France do best and kick on in the knockouts but Switzerland had other ideas and after taking the world champions to a penalty shootout, the Swiss kicked Les Bleus out of the tournament in shocking fashion.
Paul Pogba was a hot shot for Player of the Tournament before their premature exit. His performances against Germany, Hungary and Portugal were an example of great midfield masterclasses. He will also be scapegoated by many and that was evident as ever when he was criticised for his defensive work in the Swiss game. That aside, Pogba was one of France’s best players this tournament and that is simply undeniable and just shows what he can do with a proper defensive minded player next to him.
Portugal were another nation that many tipped to go the distance this summer but also fell at the same hurdle as France. Belgium were their curtain call.
Bruno Fernandes had a poor tournament. There is no getting away from that. Being benched in some games just shows you the level to which he underperformed for his country. He wasn’t helped by his teammates that also let their country down but this is a competition that Fernandes should be showing his obvious class in.
Diogo Dalot was a last-minute draft in after Joao Cancelo’s positive covid result and played a few minutes for Portugal. His cameos were all too brief in order to make a proper verdict of his tournament. We are just happy he got some minutes for a clearly talented but underperforming Portugal side.
Scotland’s campaign was underwhelming but will forever have the memory of drawing 0-0 with England at Wembley. They crashed out in the groups after a final game hammering by Croatia.
Scott Mctominay was one of the shining lights in a dark summer for Scotland. Scott is notorious for his brutal rough ways and that works a treat at centre back for the British side. A good experience for a young Mctominay and maybe a few heads turned in the Carrington camp about his best position.
Spain had the weirdest tournament of all because they seemed to have a terrible attack despite scoring 5 goals in back-to-back games. They went all the way to the final before winners Italy knocked them out on penalties. We know how they feel.
David De Gea has had a rough year on the pitch and this showed as he didn’t get a single minute for Spain ahead of number 1 Unai Simon.
Brazil went all the way to the final where they lost out 1-0 to Argentina. It was a successful run for the footballing nation but ultimately fell just short of the trophy.
Fred was a key part in Brazil’s tournament run playing a regular role in the midfield and putting in solid displays. It is good to see Fred’s performances for Brazil not going under the radar and hopefully he can take that form into the Premier League campaign.
Uruguay went to the quarter finals of the Copa America before losing out to 3rd placed Columbia on penalties. It was an underwhelming tournament for a good squad.
Edinson Cavani continued his goal scoring form for his country during the South American tournament. El Matador scored in Uruguay’s 2-0 win over Bolivia before netting a winning penalty against Paraguay. In the losing shootout he fired home his opening penalty before his nation failed to capitalise and crashed out.
Overall, a good summer for our United stars and we hope they will bring their form into the new Premier League campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.