Could football be coming home sooner than many people believe?

England stamped their mark on world football following their victory over Spain in the UEFA Nations League.

The Three Lions claimed their first win in Spain since 1988 and condemned La Furia Roja to their first defeat on home soil since 2003.

Spain dominated statistically – 23 to 5 shots, 73 per cent possession and 747 to 286 passes, yet the counter attacking style of England proved victorious.

Raheem Sterling netted his first goal in 27 games for the Three Lions, while Marcus Rashford quelled any concerns over his form in front of goal by netting a well-timed finish.

What made the performance more impressive was the lack of experience in the team.

While Spain’s midfield comprised of Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcântara and Saul, England had Eric Dier, Ross Barkley and Harry Winks.

All three players are not certain starters at club level but showed their value to the national team set up.

The midfield trio emphasise what Gareth Southgate has implemented in the national team since taking the reins in 2016.

Players who can fit into the system prevail over the household names.

Southgate quickly imposed a 3-5-2 formation when he became manager of the Three Lions. The system was implemented to provide support to the defensive line, which lacked experienced.

Since the World Cup, England has transitioned from three at the back to a 4-3-3.

This week Southgate said his side now have enough experience to transfer to a more attacking formation.

“The system… the three at the back, the 3-5-2, allowed some players to bed into international football,” Southgate told the media this week.

“People like [Harry] Maguire, going into the World Cup, I felt we needed a bit more protection for the defence and the opportunity to get two forwards in the game.

“Now the players are more established and look comfortable as a back four. We’ve got some strong number-eights and wingers coming through, so it’s good to have the opportunity to play different systems.”

England are well ahead of where they were believed to be. The Three Lions were tipped to struggle at the World Cup but reached the semi-finals.

With their recent performances and Southgate’s confidence in his side, England could now be in contention to win Euro 2020 and the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

The Three Lions have an abundance of young talent that are now being called into the national team.

18-year-old Jadon Sancho made his debut for the Three Lions against Croatia, after claiming six assists in the Bundesliga this season.

Sancho was joined in the squad by James Maddison and Mason Mount for the Nations League fixtures.

The three youngsters are tipped to have bright futures in the England set up and can provide the England with the attacking flair they have craved since Paul Gascoigne led them to the semi-finals of Euro 1996.

They will also add depth to the current attacking trio of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.

The three starters are all under 25 years of age and will be part for the national team set up for years to come.

There are other talents that are continuing to develop at youth team level.

Manchester United duo Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood have been referred to as ‘once in a generation’ players, while Manchester City’s 18-year-old playmaker Phil Foden has already featured for the Sky Blues this season.

With such an array of promising players, England could be on the brink of a golden generation that could win their first piece of silverware since the 1966 World Cup.

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Rick D'Andrea
ricdan85@gmail.com