Euro 2012 Preview: England

They may have created the game, but there have been few occasions where England have possessed a team that has been capable of winning a major tournament. They carry optimism into every competition they play in yet over recent years, the Three Lions have experienced absolutely no success. Strangely, followers of England are actually approaching this game with much more caution and pessimism than usual, which could act in the country’s favour for a change.

Qualification

England were actually one of the few teams qualifying for the tournament who did not lose a match during their qualification period. Under the strict guidance of Fabio Capello, the Three Lions accumulated a total of eighteen points from their eight games – with five being victories and three concluding in draws. However, despite this impressive return of points, many England followers were not satisfied with the manner in which their country progressed to Euro 2012. Barring two comfortable victories over Bulgaria, England were unconvincing in all of their other outings and this was deemed unacceptable by a lot of people, who compared the country’s superstars to some of the part-time professionals they were up against in certain fixtures.

The Manager

Fabio Capello was the man to guide England through the qualification period, and the man that most people thought would be taking them to Poland and Ukraine. However, it appears as though the Football Association were not at all satisfied by Capello’s management, taking the decision to sack the Italian after comments made to the media about captain John Terry. There was intense speculation that Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp would be the man to replace Capello, although in a strange turn of the events the FA decided to approach West Brom boss Roy Hodgson who was eventually handed the role on a four year contract. While there was certainly an element of surprise about Hodgson’s appointment, the fact that he has previous international management experience with Switzerland and Finland was supposedly one of the major factors on why he was selected. While there is no doubt that Hodgson has enjoyed a fabulously successful managerial career, there are some supporters who are doubting whether or not he’ll be able to get the best out of this England job having struggled in big roles at Inter Milan, Blackburn and Liverpool.

The Squad

There has certainly been some debate on the squad that England have taken to this season’s finals. At the back, Hodgson made the controversial decision of not selecting Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, with many suggesting that the race row between John Terry and Rio Ferdinand’s brother Anton was a key issue on the manager’s mind. Elsewhere, a lot of people thought the likes of Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll were extremely fortuitous following their poor domestic campaigns, while the selection of Danny Welbeck also prompted question marks.

Still, despite the questionable picks, Hodgson certainly has some exceptionally capable players in his squad. Even though he will miss the opening two games of the tournament through suspension, Wayne Rooney is sure to play a huge role in Euro 2012 with his goals and general play a constant threat. Elsewhere, opposing countries will certainly be looking out for Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who has enjoyed a superb debut campaign in the top flight since his big money move from Southampton in 2011. Despite being just 18-years-old, many are tipping Oxlade Chamberlain to be one of England’s key performers and one of their main outlets for goals.

Past Tournaments

As mentioned previously, England hold a very poor tournament record and this is one of the reasons why they are tipped for little success this time around. The Three Lions did not even manage to qualify for the last European Championships, while their performance in the World Cup in 2010 was hardly inspiring after they limped out at the final sixteen stage. The last time the Three Lions recorded any sort of success in a major competition was in 1996, with Terry Venables leading his team to a 3rd place finish in the European Championships after being knocked out of the semi-finals on penalties against Germany.

Prediction

The fact that England, supposedly one of the biggest football nations in the world, are 13/1 at most bookmakers to win this tournament speaks volumes about how poorly they are thought of at the moment. Unfortunately, we are forced to agree with the bookies and we just don’t think that Roy Hodgson’s side have a prayer of taking home the trophy this term. In fact, with France and co-hosts Ukraine in their group, it will be very difficult for them to progress at all. Moreover, with Spain or Italy likely opponents should they manage to exit the group stage, we think it will be extremely tough for England to go any further than the quarter-finals.

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