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Can England Win Euro 2012?
England is once again on the road to Euro glory, trekking a path they have known so well but mastered so less. Perhaps as a consolation – others would refer to this as an excuse – you should this is not a walk in the park. Even the best have never completed this journey back-to-back; no team has won the title in two consecutive times. For the Three Lions, a team that has never won the title in their footballing history, this should be a good sign. The Euro trophy has never landed on their palms, and as dynasties cycle, it’s only a matter of time before England find themselves on the top. Question is, will 2012 be their year?
The appointment of Roy Hodgson brought about great relief to England fans all over the globe. Finally! An Englishman at the helm of an English ship; finally an experienced manager known to handle sides used to playing as ‘underdogs’. More importantly, Roy Hodgson is a stickler for order, and discipline on and off the pitch – three elements that have somehow eluded the post-2000 England national team that has never been bereft of talent.
Hodgson is a preacher of balance. This is why he prefers the 4-4-2, and this is why his 23-man selection is as it is at the moment. Making sure that he doesn’t select two players of the same style, Roy focused on variety. A very good example of this is the missing ‘Aaron Lennon’ script on the team-sheet – after all you could get the same style out of Theo Walcott, if not better. Instead he chose Alex Oxalade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott’s counter-balance in Arsenal. And while the uncapped 18-year-old is expected to play second-fiddle to the likes of Ashley Young and Stewar Downing, you can never deny how much of a new dimension this youngster adds to a typically familiar side.
Stacked with experienced players in the middle of the park – Lampard, Gerrard, Barry, Parker, and Milner – Hodgson will have to depend on a mix of experienced and innocent in defense. Roy after all has only three players capped over 30 times, John Terry, Glen Jonhson and Ashley Cole. Outside of these two you have Cahill, Jones, Lescott, and Baines – a very capable line-up on paper, but never really tested in pressure-cooker international tournaments. It is perhaps a good sign – a very very good sign in fact – that they have Joe Hart in goal. Winning the EPL last season and tallying a total of 17 clean sheets, Hart can only get better with time. In him England has a young, reliable keeper – somebody who can command a defensive four both young and old.
The selection of England’s strikeforce come summer came with little surprise. Jermaine Defoe and Wayne Rooney were retained after a good qualifying round, while Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck were thrown into the mix to provide versatility notwithstanding the lack of experience. Rooney will be missing the first two games of the tournament due to a suspension, and unless Hodgson pushes Steven Gerrard a little further up to fill Rooney’s supporting striker shoes, the good manager will definitely mix it up to stave off predictability. Hodgson looks shorthanded up front for as long as Rooney is absent, and you cannot help but wonder how he will play this area of the pitch.
Balance with versatility – these two elements make up Hodgson’s main thrusts towards the trophy this summer. More importantly, it’s a sound selection policy that, for now, answers the ever-present question ‘Can England win the Euro this summer?’ After all, a team’s success starts from the question of who – the “hows” will just fall into place when the opening whistle starts. And on that note, it remains to be seen whether Hodgson’s decision to leave out the likes of a Michael Carrick will bite England at the end; it’s just not who you have that decides your fate, but who do you not have and who you miss the most.
The competition will be tough and we haven’t even talked about the top oppositions first. It can be tricky at one point – the mere fact that England will be playing in Ukraine is already a factor. The fact that they are in a group that offers enough challenge is another. With a bit of luck, and much preparation – fitness and discipline will definitely lead them the way – there is enough reason that England can challenge for the Euro title. Can England win the Euro 2012? I dare say ‘definitely yes’. But their fate is not in my hands – not even in yours – so let’s just wait and see, and pray that the Three Lions roar to victory.
All odds are from Bet365.com (£200 FREE BET!).