England manager Gareth Southgate took an educated gamble in taking on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in the last minute of extra-time of the Euro 2020 final purely to take penalties.
Both missed their spot-kicks with Bukayo Saka also failing to convert as the English lost 3-2 in the shoot-out to Italy.
England admitted they had practised penalties on an almost daily basis during the tournament.
Rashford and Sancho may have proven in training they are good from the penalty spot. However, taking a penalty in training is a completely different scenario to a shoot-out in a major final when the heat is on and the fans are breathing down your neck.
Southgate will have put a lot of thought into the decision, but putting Rashford and Sancho on so late didn’t give them any time for a feel of the atmosphere or to get settled in.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 12, 2021
As a manager, every big call is under scrutiny and everyone will have an opinion about it.
For me, it looked like introducing Rashford and Sancho so late was educated gamble and one that didn’t work for him.
Ultimately Italy were deserved winners of Euro 2020 as their form throughout the tournament was impressive.
In the final they dealt with not only playing at England’s home stadium, but also the blow of going behind to a very early goal.
To be able to come back from that and then dominate from the second half underlined their strength.
League Cup group stages are important
The League Cup group stages should not be demeaned by clubs using it as preparation for the league campaign.
It is a competition some clubs have used previously as more or less as part of their pre-season.
However, the League Cup deserves utmost respect as it is an important competition and one most clubs want to do well in.
The group stage format is exciting and one that seems to be enjoyed by all the teams that participate.
The League Cup group stage offers Scottish clubs the opportunity to play competitive games early in the season in a meaningful competition.
The format they have settled on has been successful as groups allows clubs from different divisions to face one another and offers fresh challenges.
Peterhead faced Premiership Hearts at the weekend, narrowly losing 2-0, and Cove Rangers will face the Tynecastle club away tonight.
It has also thrown up a tasty clash between Cove Rangers and Peterhead.