Now that’s how you open a stadium. Yeah, it would have been better had England actually won, but what a cracking game that was. We saw six goals, including one after 20-odd seconds, and a hat trick by an opposition player. 3 times the game was equalized, and the match was hotly competed and close the entire time. Even the referee and linesmen were excellent. Defensive liabilities on both sides were evident, surprisingly for Italy although it was the Under 21s, but that made the game even more watchable, if frightening for the managers of both sides.
The story of the day is the stadium, and probably rightfully so. How great is it to see Wembley finally open? I was certain we’d be seeing Prince William handing off the FA Cup at Cardiff for the for the 7th straight year. But here we are, 5 years after the iconic two towers were demolished, and England has its national stadium back. Yeah, it’s about time, but now is not the time for complaints about the process. It’s time to use the re-opening as a morale boost for all levels of the national side.
But no matter how nice it is to see the ground re-open, we really were treated to an excellent game to christen the ground, and that’s as heartening as having Wembley back. There’s a lot of promise in the Under 21s.
What amazes me is how different England’s Under 21 side is than the senior squad. England’s best player today? David Bentley, a winger. He was utterly excellent; the strides he’s made this season are beyond adjectives. Crosses, beating his man, workrate, free kicks; he was the whole package. Not to mention today’s starting line-up saw Bentley, Richardson, Agbonlahor, and Routledge all start, with Young and Milner coming in off the bench. 6 players, arguably 6 of England’s best today, and they’re all wide players! Bodes well for the future, to be sure. And it certainly is a contrast to the first team’s logjam in central midfield. Also, it’s not as if Lennon or Wright-Phillips are geriatric. Hopefully one of these many wide players can bring that to the senior team’s left wing. Lord knows the help is needed.
It’s mean to say, but I hope the first team was watching before their preparations to take on Israel in a few hours. The Under 21s play together as infrequently as the senior squad, but look far more a team than the national side has in years.
But it’s not the time for cheap shots. Roll on England.