Euro 2024 contenders are all flawed – and that will add to the spectacle | Jonathan Wilson

The beauty of international football is that nobody can go out and buy a perfectly balanced squad

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As boos echoed round an increasingly empty Wembley on Friday, the pitch dotted with paper planes, the mind drifted back to a similar occasion eight years ago and another friendly played in preparation for the European Championship. That time the opposition were Portugal and then too there were boos, despite Chris Smalling heading the winner from a Raheem Sterling cross with four minutes remaining. A little over a month later, England were grimly looking to a fresh start under Sam Allardyce, having been eliminated by Iceland in their first game after the Brexit vote, and Portugal were European champions.

It’s true that Portugal had had Bruno Alves sent off 10 minutes before half-time in that friendly; somebody desperate, post hoc, to trace cause and effect may conclude that in their resistance there were clues to Portugal’s ultimate dogged triumph. And certainly there was plenty of evidence for how lacking in fluency England would be in the weeks that followed. But it’s even truer to say that pre-season friendlies are quickly forgotten.

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