France international N'Golo Kante (file image)
France international N'Golo Kante (file image)

Euro 2020: France is team to beat, Austria could be darkhorse, says David James

By Vishesh Roy | Updated: Jun 05, 2021 13:12 IST

New Delhi [India], June 5 (ANI): Euro 2020 is set to kick off on June 11 and the tournament will capture the fans' imagination across the world as the top teams in Europe will battle it out for ultimate glory.

Former England goalkeeper David James has rallied behind his country to put on a good show in the upcoming tournament, but he quickly pointed out how France will be the front-runner to be crowned as the champions of Europe.

In an interaction with ANI, James opened up on his hopes from England who start their campaign on June 13 against Croatia, how the Three Lions squad looks like, how big of a blow would be losing Trent Alexander-Arnold, and how important Harry Kane is to England's chances.

"I am obviously going to be biased towards England's chances because I am an England fan. But I think, to sort of help that biased opinion be more level, you have to look at the squad we have got. We have talent in the squad, if you look at strikers, you have got Harry Kane who won the Golden Boot in the EPL, he got the most assists as well," said James.

"You look at the seven players from Chelsea and Manchester City who played the Champions League final. We had the players in the Europa League final, we have got German Cup winners, we have a lot of successful players. I have no doubt that England has the opportunity to be successful in this tournament," he added.

When asked about how big a blow it would be to lose Trent Alexander-Arnold due to an injury, James said: "From Trent's perspective, it has been a testing season for him. For him to be out, you have to feel for him because he has done everything that a player can do to feature in the squad."

"With the squad of 26, they already have a bigger squad than they would have normally had because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I like the idea of what Gareth Southgate is doing, in a sense, he knows what he needs to win the tournament. On that basis, he did not think Jesse Lingard was part of that situation. Trent Alexander-Arnold forced his way into the squad because of his performances during the end of the season. Gareth feels that balance of the squad feels right with one man down, so yeah, I like Gareth opted not to name a replacement for Trent."

Striker and skipper Harry Kane has been vocal on how he desperately wants to win a title with either England or with his club. James believes that Kane is a class apart and he would have a title to his name pretty soon.

"I mean as an individual if you look at Harry Kane's record, he has won Golden Boot in EPL, he has won top assists. This is a guy who won Golden Boot in a major international competition, this is a guy who demands the best of himself. If you look at Cristiano Ronaldo, everyone talks about him in high regard with regards to his work ethic, well for my understanding, Harry works as hard in his own department. If you look at from forwards' perspective, this is someone who works hard and you expect rewards from that sort of athlete," said James.

"Harry Kane would argue that I want to win trophies, he is so dedicated and by telling people he wants to trophies, he is also telling teammates this is what I expect, I think you need to come along with me and let us do this. I think it is a realistic goal when he talks about winning trophies," added the 50-year-old.

When asked who would be the favourites to win Euro 2020, James said: "I think realistically, I go back to N'Golo Kante, he can be Player of the Tournament because of what he has done this season. If he can get France ticking, Mbappa, Benzema, they have got to be the ones to beat. This is a worrying thought. If I have to name big favourites, it has to be France. If I have to go for dark-horse or outsider, I think Austria has something to offer."

The Euro 2020 will be live on Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3 from June 11. Moving back to the Champions League, James also rallied behind Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and said he did not overthink in the finals of the Champions League and it is unfair to blame him for the loss in the finals against Chelsea.

"I go back to Kante, when a team loses, everyone focuses on the manager and how he got his tactics wrong. If you look at what Chelsea did defensively, they were superb. Kante was head and shoulders Man of the Match in that performance. If the opposition has players who are playing their best football, then your tactics are going to struggle. 1-0 was the scoreline, across the board, defensively and offensively, Chelsea was at their best and they made it difficult for Manchester City." (ANI)