The Euros are coming to a close as the finals beckon and two European heavyweights remain. Both Italy and England won their semi-final ties and both will clash under the Wembley arch for the right to call themselves European Champions.
Both semi-finals provided great drama, the two games were filled with interesting tales in their respectively. David de Gea’s Spain took on familiar foes in the form of the ever-classy Italians. England took on the role of the Pantomime villain, with intentions to crush the Danish dreams that were born out of tragic events.
So where did the Manchester United players fit into this European drama?
SpainEmbed from Getty Images
David de Gea’s role as an Extra for the whole of the tournament didn’t change against Italy. The demise of United’s once untouchable no.1, or more aptly the current holder of the shirt, has been sad to see at Old Trafford. However, for it to quickly infect his stocks in Spain has likely brought tears to anyone who’s supported the bearded Spaniard to any great lengths.
What was more interesting is how when the Spanish fought hard to equalise through Alvaro Morata, who would later miss his penalty to hand the game to the Italians, some of their more experienced statemen went to De Gea to embrace him. Their hugs implied the respect that De Gea still has amongst his peers in Spain. The only hope now is that Dave can establish himself as “Numero Uno” once again, whether at United or elsewhere.
EnglandEmbed from Getty Images
England’s casting as the villain was can be realised in the fact that how everyone who wasn’t English or was without any affiliation to the country wanted Denmark to win. The support of the Danes was understandable considering their emotional start with the Cardiac Arrest of star man Christian Eriksen. They almost used the tragic event to spur them on and galvanise their progression to the last four.
England evilly allowed the Danes to go ahead through a Mikkel Damsgaard free-kick goal. Soon after Danish hopes were cracked by the English who quickly equalised.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United’s key men in the England team this tournament were central to the performance once again. Luke Shaw, showed a typical willingness to get forward and cross threatening balls into the box and Harry Maguire was colossal at the back. However, significantly the United boys brought their controversial VAR benefits as although quite dubiously England were awarded a penalty which was initially saved by Kasper Schmeichel but the rebound was quickly lasered in by the taker Harry Kane.Embed from Getty Images
Over the course of the tournament, it’s become increasingly obvious to see which United players will get play the biggest roles. Marcus Rashford’s fitness issues and inconsistent performances towards the tail end of the season means his role in the England team has been reduced to cameos. Rashford will likely not be involved in the final. Jadon Sancho despite making his first start this tournament within days of his United signing announcement vs Ukraine in the Quarter-final will also probably find himself on the bench.
Maguire and Shaw however have represented United’s England contingent in exemplary fashion. The hope is they’ll continue to do so as England look to finally bring football home.
What to look forward to in the final?
England vs Italy. Manchester United’s men in the England team have made history by reaching the first international final in more than half a century. The work is far from done, one job remains, the Italian job. Location, Wembley.