Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick is still backing Jack Grealish to have one big moment for England this summer ahead of this weekend’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.
Grealish hasn’t been as involved as we might have expected in England’s Euro 2020 campaign, but Chadwick remains a big fan and thinks he could be the one to give Gareth Southgate’s side that moment of magic at Wembley this weekend.
“I’ve always wanted Jack Grealish to play and he’d probably be my selection (for the final),” Chadwick told CaughtOffside.
“Of course I’m not the manager so I don’t see the players every day, but in fairness in the past we’ve been a bit guilty of picking the best players without thinking enough about the cohesion with other players.
“I think Southgate’s shown he’s brave enough to pick the players that he knows will make the strongest team. It’s worked so far and I think it’ll be the same team against Italy, I don’t think he’ll make any changes unless there are any injuries.
“Saka was positive again against Denmark and works well in Southgate’s system of inverted wingers, he and Sterling combined on the goal, so I can see why he likes to start with those two. And of course Southgate’s got incredible options on the bench – Foden, Sancho, Grealish. He’s got options, and that’s why I fancied them when it went to extra time, he has so many weapons he can bring off the bench to change the game.
“In my mind, I still feel like Grealish is going to have one huge moment in the final. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him on the pitch and he made something happen.”
Like all England fans at the moment, Chadwick has admitted he’s absolutely buzzing after the 2-1 win over Denmark on Tuesday night, as he can barely believe he’s finally seen the team make into the final of a major tournament after so many disappointments down the years.
“It’s incredible to think England are in a final, it’s something I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to see in my lifetime! If you go over the last 30 years or so, it’s special, a special feeling for everyone all over the country,” Chadwick said.
“It was a tense affair (against Denmark), I’m sure we were all hoping for another comfortable win like the one over Ukraine at the weekend, but it was far from that. I think England started well, but without any real clear-cut chances. The Denmark goal changed the game a little bit, but it was such a crucial time for us to score just before half time.”
Chadwick admits he had his worries about the game going to penalties due to the remarkable form of Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel on the night.
“When it went to extra time, England were in the ascendancy and Denmark were dead on their feet really,” he said. “There were worries if it went to penalties, with the form of Kasper Schmeichel in the Danish goal, that it might go their way.
“The penalty we got was a bit soft, but Kane scored at the second attempt and it was a night of great celebration. It feels so strange to finally be able say that England really are in a final. It’s obviously going to be a really tough game on Sunday but here’s hoping for another great game.
“Whatever happens on Sunday I think they can be extremely proud of their achievements. To get to the final, I’m sure they’d be disappointed to not then go on and finish the job. But the type of people they are, it’s still a squad and group of staff that the country can be extremely proud of.”
Chadwick may be tempting fate here, but he also went on to say that he is slightly happier with England playing Italy instead of Spain in the final.
Despite Italy’s obvious qualities, Chadwick feels they’re not as much of a possession-based team as Spain, and that could give England the chance to use their pacey young attackers against their ageing central defensive duo of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
“To be completely honest, I’m more comfortable with the idea of playing Italy than I would’ve been with Spain,” Chadwick said.
“I think Spain are a bit different with the way they play, the way they keep the ball. Italy are a bit more direct, and they have those two wily old foxes at the back. That lack of pace could give England opportunities with the likes of Saka and Sterling – quick players who can dribble with the ball.
“It’s going to be a close game, I can’t really call it, but I’d like to think the game being at Wembley might give England the edge. And England have a few younger legs there who can maybe recover quicker and really take the game to Italy.
“I wouldn’t call Chiellini and Bonucci a weakness, they’re obviously a big reason Italy have got to the final. They’re great characters, leaders, communicators … but there might be a bit of space in front of them, so if England can get the likes of Sterling, Saka or Sancho on the ball and running at those players, you’d fancy them to make something happen.”