The last major international tournament England won was the World Cup victory in 1969. The game has changed a lot since then, but in all those years, all the talent we’ve seen, we still haven’t reached such a peak.
The team led by Hodgson is young and inexperienced, but it’s full of talent from the top tier of English football. The qualifying campaign was a huge success winning all 10 of their qualifying games and conceding just a single goal. The quality of the opposition will be of a higher quality here as the friendlies running up to the tournament suggested, but the defence is pretty solid, with Cahill, Smalling, Rose and Walker looking settled. Those defenders have plenty of pace and the wing backs offer a real threat going forward.
The midfield is less certain with the Rooney debate rumbling on further. We will debate that in another article. Ali looks to be the key player in an attacking role when he plays, wanting to take control of the ball and using his pace and skill to turn players, creating space for those around him.
Supporting him in the defensive role will be Eric Dier. Another young Spurs player will take up the mantle in the midfield, providing cover for the back four. His role in the tournament will be crucial if England are to succeed. The wing backs will push on and if he is caught out of position the defence will be exposed.
Kane and Vardy are the likely goal scorers for England in this tournament although they may not always play together. Playing 2 strikers against high quality opponents can often leave you over-run in midfield and it’s a tactic Roy is likely to avoid. I suspect Kane will lead the line, with support provided from the wing, but who this will be I’m unsure.
This team has a solid defence and some real high quality options going forward, but how will this transfer onto the pitch.
England have been drawn with 3 tough opponents in the group stage, but they are all teams England would expect to beat, especially if they have ambitions of winning this tournament.
Russia are the opening opponents and it’s crucial England get off to a fast start. England need to finish top of the group if they are to avoid the higher seeds in the tournament, which means securing 2 or 3 wins. This will be a highly competitive match, and with the nerves playing a key part. It’s probably going to be a low scoring tense affair, but England should edge it with their good defensive record and the keen attack.
Wales will make England’s life as difficult as possible. If they can finish 2nd or score a decent amount of points they could qualify for the last 16 by finishing in 3rd. A home nations match in a major tournament is as close to a derby as you can get, and all form goes out of the window in derby’s. I wouldn’t be shocked if this match ended up even.
Slovakia are the team that England should be targeting for a guaranteed 3 points. They are the weakest team in the group, but that doesn’t mean they will be a walkover. If England play to their potential they should come away with all 3 points and topping the group is highly likely.
The Last 16
The new format means there are 15 different opponents England could potentially face if they top the group and make it into the last 16 but the majority suggest they will face either Spain, Turkey, Croatia or the Czech Republic. All tough opponents. If they do top the group they will fancy themselves to beat the latter 3, and if they face Spain then they’ve not played to their best either. This could be an opportunity against one of the best teams in the tournament.
If England make it to the finals they will face some of the better teams in the tournement. With Spain, Germany, France and Belgium being the toughest teams. In order to win a major tournament you have to beat these sides at some point, so can England do it?
There is enough talent in that England squad to go toe-toe with any opponents in this tournament. The young side seems to less of a reliance on star players and the strength appears to be in the team as a unit. Without the expectation of the Superstars the pressure of success in this tournament seems remarkably less.
So can England win Euro 2016. I firmly believe they can.