Rod Liddle

Euro 2020: This game is tailor-made for Southgate’s England

Euro 2020: This game is tailor-made for Southgate’s England
Gareth Southgate (photo: Getty)
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Right now, it’s a bit like you’re five years old and it’s the night before Christmas but you can’t be sure who is going to come down the chimney, Santa Claus or Benito Mussolini. I mean for football fans – not for the public school bedwetters on here who refer to the world’s favourite sport as ‘girlball’.

Italy are unbeaten in their last 33 games: good. Runs come to an end sooner or later. This is a game tailor-made for Southgate’s favourite tactics of stifling containment. This may well turn out to be one of the most boring matches in the history of football. I would start with Sancho and Grealish, just to worry their backline a little. But he won’t. And who, now, is to say that he is wrong, given what he has achieved? I won’t even boo the knee-taking, so clobbered have I been by the national mood, the yearning and so on. I hope Pickford has regained a semblance of sentience and Kalvin Phillips is restrained in those early tackles. The score? Hell, 1-0 either way? To us, I suspect, but it’s very close to call.

We have lager, white wine and Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference crisps: no man needs more than that for a football match. I hope that rather than singing that awful bloody dirge about sealions on the shirt, or ‘Sweet Caroline’, we treat the Italians to one of their own songs, which I always loved: