Euro 2024: Would love to see Southgate make some changes, says Michael Owen

The former English footballer cited how the lop-sided draw has enabled ‘dark horses’ to prove their mettle against higher ranked sides.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 13:40 IST

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Bengaluru: Michael Owen is not one to mince his words. The former English footballer discussed the performances of the England National football team in Euro 2024, while also touching upon some of the current emerging stars in an interaction organised by Sony LIV.

Speaking about the tournament, Owen cited how the lop-sided draw has enabled ‘dark horses’ to prove their mettle against higher ranked sides.

“It has been a really interesting tournament. A lot of the stronger teams have been placed in one side of the draw, and that has given an opportunity for teams in the other side of the draw, some dark horses. There might be a surprise package that comes from that side of the draw. I thought France were the likely winners, but they have been given some tough games now so it might be difficult for them. I still think they are the best team in the world. Spain have been the most eye-catching,” Owen said.

England huffed and puffed into the quarterfinals after a drab group-stage display and a late turnaround against Slovakia in the round of 16. Owen admitted that Gareth Southgate’s side do not inspire confidence but can definitely improve their performances going ahead.

“England obviously have struggled a lot. They will need to improve otherwise they won’t win it, but we all know they can be better. The good thing is we know England are better than this. We know their performances can get better and if they do get better, they have a very good chance of winning this tournament,” Owen said.

“When you play badly four times, the worry is why you won’t do it for a fifth time. I would love Southgate to make a few changes (against Switzerland in the quarterfinals).

“There is a lot of pressure on these players – they were 30 seconds from going out of the tournament – and the criticism would have been huge,” the 44-year-old added.

The 2001 Ballon d’Or winner clinched the coveted award aged just 22, becoming the second-youngest player to win the accolade. Owen spoke about the ‘next generation’ of players capable of domination, and how competition can enable the likes of Frenchman Kylian Mbappe to constantly improve.

“I think in the next decade, we are going to be highly entertained by quality players such as (Jude) Bellingham, (Jamal) Musiala, (Lamine) Yamal. We always like to see the next generation – young players that get you very excited and are capable at this level,” Owen said.

Kylian Mbappe will be one of the greatest players. We have seen two players that pushed each other (Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) and stayed at top for a long time while putting up numbers we had never seen before. Maybe he (Mbappe) needs somebody else to push him like Messi and Ronaldo have had throughout the careers,” he added.

Owen fancied France to beat Portugal and mentioned that Spain is capable of upsetting hosts Germany in the quarterfinals.

“Spain have a big test against hosts Germany. England have a great record against Switzerland, you have to think we will go through. France have not been at their very best, but they have players for the big occasion. I fancy France against Portugal.

“Spain vs Germany is going to be a difficult game (to call), and Spain have been the best team, so it’s going to be a big test for the host nation,” Owen predicted.

Published 04 July 2024, 13:40 IST

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