England vs Germany, a big European semi-final, the game goes into penalties…you already know how this ends.
It was a mightily valiant effort by England Under-21 side on Tuesday afternoon but it just wasn’t to be on this occasion, with familiar foes Germany coming out on top in a tense penalty shoot-out.
Goals from Leicester City’s Demarai Gray and new Swansea striker Tammy Abraham had turned the tables after a first-half opener from Germany’s Davie Selke, before Felix Platte sent the game into extra-time with a second-half header – and from there the rest is history.
Jordan Pickford kept out the German’s second penalty in the shoot-out but misses from Abraham, followed by the pivotal miss from Nathan Redmond, saw England crash out in an all too familiar way.
Although they fell narrowly short of adding to an already promising summer for England’s youth teams, there were some impressive individual performances throughout their Euro Championship journey.
The Boot Room looks at five players that could make a real impact in the Premier League next season.
Jordan Pickford – Everton
After being a stand-out player in a woeful Sunderland outfit last season, Jordan Pickford arrived at the tournament having secured a record £30million fee for a British goalkeeper to join up with Everton.
It seems a big amount for somebody who has only really had one breakthrough season in the Premier League but, based on his showings in Poland, he really has the potential to be special.
His penalty save in the opener against Sweden saved England two points – eventually helping them through the group stage – and his shot-stopping ability continuously impressed match after match.
The only reason England were in the game for so long against Germany was due to the relentless Pickford, facing up to over 30 German shots on goal, and he looks to be the future of this country.
Ben Chilwell – Leicester City
For a man who has generally been playing second-fiddle to Christian Fuchs at Leicester City for the past few seasons Ben Chilwell was somebody who really impressed at the European Championships.
Despite going into a big summer tournament with just seven Premier League starts under his belt he showed few signs of rustiness, looking positive on the ball and always aiming to attack on the left flank.
His pace and direct running – as well as his fearless nature on the pitch – showed glimpses that he could be the real deal, and he’ll hope for more first-team chances at Leicester in the upcoming year.
His defensive awareness of opposition runners in-behind him could do with a little work, and Germany targeted this at times on Tuesday, but there’s huge potential for him to develop into a quality left-back.
Demarai Gray – Leicester City
Seemingly always playing back-up to Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez are the King Power Stadium for the past two seasons, Demarai Gray has always shown in spurts that he could make it on the big stage.
Left out of the starting eleven for the opening two matches, he came into the side against Poland and made an immediate impact with his energy in the final third, scoring a beauty inside six minutes.
This exciting display earnt him a shot against the Germans and once again he troubled them with his versatile running off the ball, always looking to get in-behind their back-line when given the chance.
It was his thumping effort that levelled matters shortly before the break before being taken off during the second-half, but on this showing he could easily push for a starting role at the Foxes now.
James Ward-Prowse – Southampton
It was by no means a vintage England performance against Germany – and they were perhaps fortunate to take the game to penalties – but their main threat came from this man’s set-pieces.
From the opening minute he caused problem after problem for a ropey German back-line, having an unnerving consistency from the dead ball and posing a question every time he delivered in the box.
Had they been clinical on Tuesday night they could have scored three or four from set-pieces alone so it was little surprise that England’s opener came from a perfectly whipped cross into the six-yard area.
Although Ward-Prowse is already an established part of Southampton’s side, a good summer tournament behind him could see him kick on even more and really catch the attention of England’s big sides.
Alfie Mawson – Swansea
After being a complete unknown entity this time last year Alfie Mawson has enjoyed one of the seasons of his life, playing an integral part in helping Swansea City narrowly avoid the drop last year.
His influential form at club level has seen him pick up a good sense of confidence and this showed over the past few weeks for England, leading from the back superbly as they reached the semi-finals.
His goal against Slovakia helped turn the tide in that game – leading England to a much-needed victory – and in general he has seemed composed, disciplined and generally solid as a centre-back.
Swansea will be hoping they can keep hold of him heading in to the new campaign but, if his performances carry on like they have been, it won’t be long before the bigger sides come knocking.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Steve McMetha.