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Five reasons why England can win Euro 2016

Five reasons why England can win Euro 2016

england football team, euro

Image courtesy of sbos2 via Flickr

England head into European Championships for the first time in a number of years with genuine hope that maybe, just maybe this might be their year. 50 years on from the World Cup success in 1966 there is real cause for optimism that England can go all the way. Here are five reasons why Hodgson, Rooney and co can cement their place in history this summer and win Euro 2016.

Goals, goals and more goals

The emergence of Jamie Vardy and the form of Harry Kane this season means that England head into a tournament with a front line, who between them boast one shy of 50 Premier League goals this campaign. With Marcus Rashford also in the squad, Daniel Sturridge (if he can stay fit) and Wayne Rooney all more than capable of leading the line (that’s another 21 Premier League goals for the stats lovers out there), Roy Hodgson will be hopeful that this England side will score more than the measly two they managed at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago.

The year of the underdog

If this is to be the year of the underdog after Leicester City’s incredible achievements this season then there are a number of teams that will be confident that they can cause an upset in France. France have been installed as favourites by most bookmakers, including BetVictor, but on paper they don’t have the best squad. They are missing key players in Karim Benzema and Rafael Varane and arguably they have been given the tag of “favourites” because they are playing on home soil. That said, in the two previous international tournaments France have hosted they have gone onto to win the tournament so the omens are good for Didier Deschamps’ side.

Germany and Spain both have stronger squads than England but the Three Lions beat Germany 3-2 in Germany at the end of March and that will give Roy’s boys confidence should the two sides meet in the latter stages of the competition. Meanwhile, Spain showed at the last World Cup that they are beatable and coupled with the 1-0 loss to Georgia earlier this week which again highlighted their weaknesses, there are reasons for England to be optimistic. For the first time in a while, there isn’t a clear favourite and England are in good shape to take advantage.

The draw has been kind to England

The opening game of any tournament is always difficult and I don’t expect the game against Russia to be any different. Reading an article on my commute home earlier this week in the Evening Standard reminded me how England have historically struggled in the opening games of major international tournaments. In fact, England can do something on Saturday against Russia that no previous England team has managed at a European Championships and win their opening game.

In all eight European Championship finals that the Three Lions have played in they have never won their first match; four draws and four defeats.

This time around, England have a favourable group, no Holland (Euro 96), no Germany (Euro 2000) and no France (Euro 2004, Euro 2012). On paper, we should have enough firepower to beat Russia, Wales and Slovakia. Winning all three group games for the first time is a distinct possibility. (England’s current highest points total in the group stages of a European Championship is seven points from three games which they achieved at Euro 96 and then again at Euro 2012.)

Roy has gone with the form guide

Not only do England head into the tournament off the back of a perfect 10 out 10 record (the only team to qualify with maximum points) they can also reflect on recent victories over France, world champions Germany and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Granted the three warm-up games in the build-up to the tournament have been a little unconvincing but having that unbeaten feeling heading into the tournament is always a positive.

Only 12 of the players that played in the last World Cup have made it into Roy Hodgson’s England’s team this time around. This England team is young, hungry and energetic and unlike in previous tournaments, England have options all over the pitch. Yes, there will be doubters that say that England are weak defensively but experienced players such as Gary Cahill and Joe Hart will complement the full backs well, whether Hodgson decides to start with Rose/Bertrand, Clyne or Walker.

The stability that Eric Dier provides shouldn’t be underestimated and with the flair of Delli Alli and the fit again Jack Wilshere the England team has, in my opinion, the right balance to go and attack teams without fear and take the game to them. It seems that Hodgson’s mantra, unlike in the World Cup debacle two years ago, will be to encourage England to outscore their opponents which they are more than capable of doing given the talent that is available.The players in the squad deserve to be in the squad based on merit and for their performances in the Premier League last season.

England have the youngest squad at the European Championships and the likes of Kane, Rashford and Alli should go into the tournament without any fear.

Expectations are low but the numbers point to a good tournament

World Cup Winners in 1966, Semi-Finalists at Euro 96, Lineker’s golden boot in 1986, England the perennial underachievers on the big stage have saved their best performances for the tournaments taking place in years ending in a six. Something to think about over the next month or so…

Ultimately football comes down to the 90 minutes on the pitch and as any football fan will tell you anything can happen.  Fans can and will dream of success and perhaps after reading the above there is more expectation than hope…

Enjoy the tournament!

A nation’s hopes resting in Roy Hodgson’s hands?

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

On Tuesday night, ‘boo’s swept round Wembley for the second time in five days. Two defeats at home is hardly reason to be optimistic as we look towards next summer’s World Cup. When the shortcomings are this obvious – and with the World Cup draw just around the corner on December 6th – one thing is for sure; Roy Hodgson has plenty to consider with just one game remaining before he names his preliminary 30 man squad.

I suppose the only consolation is that, unlike in previous years, nobody actually expects us to win the World Cup this time around. And so at least we will be saved the embarrassment of a nation heaping unrealistic expectations on an England team ahead of a major international tournament.

Just over a month has passed since England secured their qualification with a win against Poland and the team’s performances in the last two games are certain to leave Roy Hodgson with a pounding headache.

When you’re playing teams like Chile and Germany, first and foremost you need to be competitive. And, in phases, you have to say that England were. That said, as is often the case in international football, the winning margin was decided by such a fine line.

The concern though – aside from both results – was the lack of ideas, imagination and creativity that England displayed in both games. Surprisingly their vulnerability at the back has also been exposed, which is strange, given that only Spain conceded fewer goals than England’s four during qualification.

In my opinion, too many players were used. Yes, Roy Hodgson wants to review players like Lallana, Henderson and Rodriquez on the international stage but with just one friendly game remaining against Denmark in March before Hodgson must name his initial squad, it’s clear that he still doesn’t yet know what his best starting eleven is. And that, to me, is worrying. I wonder if the same can be said for the likes of Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Will Joe Hart be England number one? Does Roy Hodgson go with Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole at left back? Who partners Phil Jagielka at centre-half?

Phil Jones struggled against Chile and the same can be said of Gary Cahill. Meanwhile, on Tuesday night Chris Smalling didn’t perform at his best.

Who plays at right back; Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker? For me, Kyle Walker is fantastic going forward but he leaves the side exposed at the back. Before a major international tournament, it is crucial that a manager settles on a back four. Roy needs to make this decision and whoever he picks needs to play together to develop an understanding in advance.

To me, though, it is clear that England’s defence at the moment is missing a big name like John Terry or Rio Ferdinand; someone who is going to be the leader we need and will bring experience. But would a call from Roy Hodgson change either of their minds about coming out of retirement?

 

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Put simply, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

In the Germany game, England did not even manage a shot on target; the first time that has happened at home since the Scotland game in 1999. In the absence of shooting accuracy, a solid defence becomes even more crucial.

In midfield, England were certainly left exposed against Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze played well and showed their class. And with players like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger not even on the pitch, Germany has creative midfield match winners in abundance. Alexis Sanchez offered a similar threat in the Chile game.

England, on the other hand, benefits from the pace of Andros Townsend, who did play considerably well in the game last night. And when Theo Walcott is fit he can strike fear into any defender….but question marks remain in place around the quality of the final ball. Yes, we can call upon the experience of Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but both players lack that added creativity and explosiveness that we became accustomed to seeing earlier in their careers. That creative spark over time, could, I believe, come from someone like Jack Wilshere but a lot will depend on whether he can stay fit.

Wayne Rooney, on a good day, remains one of the world’s best players. He is by far one of England’s most important players. With Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck injured, Jermain Defoe benched and Rickie Lambert relatively inexperienced, the question of who partners Rooney up front remains unanswered.

 

Given his form so far this season Daniel Sturridge is in the best position to wear the number 9 shirt in Brazil. But for me, he needs to offer more in an England shirt and he lacks consistency. Playing alongside Suarez week in week out should certainly help here!

I think that, as a nation, we realise that we are no longer part of the world’s elite and that, more realistically, we find ourselves part of a group of second-tier teams that, with a favourable draw, could make the quarter-finals at best. So do we accept that we are not going to win the World Cup (in all honestly many of us already have!) and opt to give younger players vital tournament experience, building for the future?

One thing that Roy Hodgson has learned in the last two games is that the task facing in him Brazil is going to be incredibly tough. Unlike in previous tournaments though, when England were expected to win, this England side is a work in progress and the expectation of the nation remains grounded; all be it firmly in Roy Hodgson’s hands.

Who knows what will happen in Brazil, but all eyes will now be on the draw on December 6th. Let’s hope for a group of hope rather than the dreaded group of death.

Put yourself in the shoes of Roy Hodgson now and pick your England team for the World Cup. Here’s mine:

Joe Hart
Fraser Forster
Ben Foster

Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Phil Jones
Chris Smalling

Theo Walcott
Andros Townsend
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
James Milner
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Jack Wilshere
Michael Carrick

Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck
Jermain Defoe

A nation's hopes resting in Roy Hodgson's hands?

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

On Tuesday night, ‘boo’s swept round Wembley for the second time in five days. Two defeats at home is hardly reason to be optimistic as we look towards next summer’s World Cup. When the shortcomings are this obvious – and with the World Cup draw just round the corner on December 6th – one thing is for sure; Roy Hodgson has plenty to consider with just one game remaining before he names his preliminary 30 man squad.

I suppose the only consolation is that, unlike in previous years, nobody actually expects us to win the World Cup this time around. And so at least we will be saved the embarrassment of a nation heaping unrealistic expectations on an England team ahead of a major international tournament.

Just over a month has passed since England secured their qualification with a win against Poland and the team’s performances in the last two games are certain to leave Roy Hodgson with a pounding headache.

When you’re playing teams like Chile and Germany, first and foremost you need to be competitive. And, in phases, you have to say that England were. That said, as is often the case in international football, the winning margin was decided by such a fine line.

The concern though – aside from both results – was the lack of ideas, imagination and creativity that England displayed in both games. Surprisingly their vulnerability at the back has also been exposed, which is strange, given that only Spain conceded fewer goals than England’s four during qualification.

In my opinion too many players were used. Yes, Roy Hodgson wants to review players like Lallana, Henderson and Rodriquez on the international stage but with just one friendly game remaining against Denmark in March before Hodgson must name his initial squad, it’s clear that he still doesn’t yet know what his best starting eleven is. And that, to me, is worrying. I wonder if the same can be said for the likes of Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Will Joe Hart be England number one? Does Roy Hodgson go with Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole at left back? Who partners Phil Jagielka at centre half?

Phil Jones struggled against Chile and the same can be said of Gary Cahill. Meanwhile on Tuesday night Chris Smalling didn’t perform at his best.

Who plays at right back; Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker? For me Kyle Walker is fantastic going forward but he leaves the side exposed at the back. Before a major international tournament it is crucial that a manager settles on a back four. Roy needs to make this decision and whoever he picks needs to play together to develop an understanding in advance.

To me, though, it is clear that England’s defence at the moment is missing a big name like John Terry or Rio Ferdinand; someone who is going to be the leader we need and will bring experience. But would a call from Roy Hodgson change either of their minds about coming out of retirement?

 

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Put simply, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

In the Germany game, England did not even manage a shot on target; the first time that has happened at home since the Scotland game in 1999. In the absence of shooting accuracy, a solid defence becomes even more crucial.

In midfield England were certainly left exposed against Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze played well and showed their class. And with players like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger not even on the pitch, Germany has creative midfield match winners in abundance. Alexis Sanchez offered a similar threat in the Chile game.

England, on the other hand, benefit from the pace of Andros Townsend, who did play considerably well in the game last night. And when Theo Walcott is fit he can strike fear into any defender….but question marks remain in place around the quality of the final ball. Yes, we can call upon the experience of Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but both player lack that added creativity and explosiveness that we became accustomed to seeing earlier in their careers. That creative spark over time, could, I believe, come from someone like Jack Wilshere but a lot will depend on whether he can stay fit.

Wayne Rooney, on a good day, remains one of the world’s best players. He is by far one of England’s most important players. With Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck injured, Jemain Defoe benched and Rickie Lambert relatively inexperienced, the question of who partners Rooney up front remains unanswered.

 

Given his form so far this season Daniel Sturridge is in the best position to wear the number 9 shirt in Brazil. But for me, he needs to offer more in an England shirt and he lacks consistency. Playing alongside Suarez week in week out should certainly help here!

I think that, as a nation, we realise that we are no longer part of the world’s elite and that, more realistically, we find ourselves part of a group of second tier teams that, with a favourable draw, could make the quarter finals at best. So do we accept that we are not going to win the World Cup (in all honestly many of us already have!) and opt to give younger players vital tournament experience, building for the future?

One thing that Roy Hodgson has learned in the last two games is that the task facing in him Brazil is going to be incredibly tough. Unlike in previous tournaments though, when England were expected to win, this England side is a work in progress and the expectation of the nation remains grounded; all be it firmly in Roy Hodgson’s hands.

Who knows what will happen in Brazil, but all eyes will now be on the draw on December 6th. Let’s hope for a group of hope rather than the dreaded group of death.

Put yourself in the shoes of Roy Hodgson now and pick your England team for the World Cup. Here’s mine:

Joe Hart
Fraser Forster
Ben Foster

Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Phil Jones
Chris Smalling

Theo Walcott
Andros Townsend
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
James Milner
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Jack Wilshere
Michael Carrick

Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck
Jermain Defoe