John Barnes has warned England they will face an even tougher task to end over 50 years of hurt at Euro 2020 than they faced at the World Cup in Russia.
Expectation is high after the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-finals last summer, which saw supporters fall in love with their national team again after decades of disappointment.
And, with Wembley Stadium confirmed to host both semi-final games AND the final, many are tipping Gareth Southgate’s men as one of the favourites for the title.
England kicked off their qualification campaign in fine style with a 5-0 victory over the Czech Republic last week, and another victory is expected when they travel to take on Montenegro on Monday night – which is LIVE on talkSPORT!
THIS WEEK ON talkSPORT
- MONDAY 25TH MARCH
19:45 Montenegro v England – Euro 2020 Qualifier – talkSPORT
19:45 France v Iceland – Euro 2020 Qualifier – talkSPORT 2
- TUESDAY 26TH MARCH
19:45 Czech Republic v Brazil – International Friendly – talkSPORT 2
- FRIDAY 29TH MARCH
20:00 West Brom v Birmingham – Championship – talkSPORT 2
- SATURDAY 30TH MARCH
15:00 Brighton v Southampton – Premier League – talkSPORT 2
17:30 West Ham v Everton – Premier League – talkSPORT
But, Barnes has urged fans not to set the team up for a fall, telling the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “It’s much harder to win the European Championships than the World Cup.”
Russia gave us a taste of how competitive next year’s tournament could be. Of the eight teams that progressed to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, only two – Brazil and Uruguay – were from outside of Europe, and both failed to progress to the semis.
England, meanwhile, were given a straightforward route through to the knock-out stages and failed to beat any of the top opposition they faced, having lost against Belgium in their group and suffered a semi-final exit to Croatia, before again losing to Belgium in a third place play-off.
Barnes added: “In the World Cup, as England showed, you can get in a group with Tunisia and Panama which means you go through, then you get to play against a weakened Colombia…
“Whereas any team who qualifies for the Euros are a strong team, and any team that goes through to the last 16 is going to be even stronger, so I would argue that it’s harder to win.
“The first two times we came up against decent teams at the World Cup, Belgium and Croatia, we lost.
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“So we can’t expect to win the European Championships. It’s going to be a difficult competition.
“You can’t ask any more from Gareth. I think we’ll qualify and qualify well, I think we’ll go through the group and then, depending on who we get in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, I think we can go on as we could have in the World Cup.”