After going a goal down as early as the second minute of the game at London’s Wembley Stadium, Roberto Mancini’s men reacted in the best manner possible. They bossed possession, controlled the ball in midfield and conjured up better scoring opportunities than their opponents. It was no surprise when Italy were back on level terms midway through the second half.
Although England played well to keep their citadel intact for the remainder of the game, they didn’t quite look likely to score another, except for a John Stones header off a set-piece. When the dreaded penalty shootout ensued, there was a sense of inevitability that England would implode.
And they did just that in spectacular fashion as the weight of an expectant nation lay heavy on a young England team. The Three Lions missed three consecutive spot-kicks after Harry Kane and Harry Maguire had given them a 2-1 lead. Nevertheless, Gareth Southgate’s men can be proud of a fabulous campaign and coming within just three spot-kicks of a first European Championship title.
At Euro 2020, there were a few other managers who impressed with their tactical nous and in-game adaptability as well. Some of these men excelled in out-thinking and outmaneuvering the opposition. On that note, here’s a look at the five best managers at the tournament.
#5 Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
Andriy Shevchenko took over the reins of his national team after a wretched Euro 2016 campaign, where Ukraine had lost all three group games. They also failed to score a goal or garner a point and finished last in the points table.
Since then, the former player’s impact on the team has been quite apparent. Shevchenko transformed Ukraine’s style of play from a counterattacking outfit to one that plays possession-based football, looking to take the game to opponents.
Although Ukraine failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, finishing third in their qualifying group, Shevchenko proved his managerial pedigree by taking his team to the Euro 2020 finals. They even topped their qualifying group which contained reigning champions Portugal.
Ukraine impressed in a five-goal thriller against the Netherlands, where their comeback was cut short by a late Oranje winner. Nevertheless, Shevchenko’s men qualified for the Euro 2020 Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Ukraine ran out of steam against eventual finalists England in the last eight, but Shevchenko and his men can be satisfied with their performances at Euro 2020.
#4 Luis Enrique (Spain)
Luis Enrique has done a remarkable job with the Spain team since taking charge less than two years ago.
The former Barcelona manager has inculcated an attacking philosophy, employing a 4-3-3 formation at Euro 2020 with impressive results. Just before the tournament commenced, he was unafraid of taking big decisions, ignoring Spain’s most capped player Sergio Ramos, who had an injury-plagued 2020-21 campaign.
For the first time ever, Spain are heading to a major tournament without ANY Real Madrid players in the squad 🤯 pic.twitter.com/I66JDNcLtk— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 24, 2021
Enrique also displayed remarkable man-management prowess and an eye for talent, which was evidenced by the impressive Pedri playing in all six matches at Euro 2020. The Spain tactician also backed embattled striker Alvaro Morata after he missed a penalty in the group stage.
At Euro 2020, Enrique was spot-on with his substitutions, displaying his ability to read in-game situations and respond accordingly. The game-winning penalty from substitute Mikel Oyarzabal in the shootout against Switzerland was one such example.
Under Enrique, Spain played a refreshing brand of attacking football, scoring five goals apiece in consecutive games to finish as the tournament’s joint-leading scorers with 13 goals. Although Enrique’s team succumbed to Italy in a semi-final shootout, Spain have the wherewithal to perform well at the next few major tournaments.
La Furia Roja, though, struggled with their penalties, both during regulation time and shootouts at Euro 2020. This is something Enrique will have to address as soon as possible.