Sorry for the delay on posting. I originally had this almost entirely written up on schedule, but then my computer decided that I clicked a link. Luckily, I had saved a draft, but that still left half of it to redo. And that just left me unmotivated. To will try and compensate, I will attempt to write another preview today.
Today, I'm moving on to preview England. I'm mainly doing England now because they've already released their 23 man roster. However, it might be subject to a little bit of tweaking due to injuries. Let's make this clear, I'm not a fan of England. I think they are quite over-rated and a bit bigheaded. I certainly don't hate them, but I won't pretend that I'm not biased.
Players called up
Goalkeepers: Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City) John Ruddy (Norwich)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Joleon Lescott (Man City), John Terry (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton) (makes up for Barry's injury)
Gareth Barry (Man City) (ruled out due to injury), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea) (Also Injured), James Milner (Man City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Man Utd)
England have been placed in Group D
Euro Group D
There is a reason why page 7 of Soccernomics is titled "Why England Loses And Others Win". Plain and simple, they don't win. The only reason why this is noteworthy is because they always think they are going to win. Aside from the ridiculously weird World Cup of 1966 (come on, Brazil got knocked out in the group stage, North Korea went on a tear that included Italy among their victims, and there was the famous goal/no goal in the final) they have been decidedly ordinary. In the Euro's, the best that the English have ever done is get third. The actually failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and missed it. England qualified for the Euros this year with a W-D-L record of 5-3-0 through a pretty weak group that was made up of Montenegro, Switzerland, Wales, and Bulgaria. England drew against Montenegro twice and Switzerland once. At the most recent World Cup, England went through to the round of 16 second after goals scored under the United States of America (YEAH) after tying 2 games and winning the third. They were then demolished 4-1 by German. I don't want to read anything about the Lampard incident because that would have still left England losing to a vastly better German side.
Of course, the biggest news for this tournament has been the resignation of Fabio Capello. Capello guided the team to qualification, but resigned after something with John Terry. Terry, of course, will be tried for the racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand after the Euros. Capello was supposed to step aside after the Euros, but he resigned easy after this incident. Stuart Pearce stepped in as caretaker. Under him, England lost to Holland 2-3. Roy Hodgson was then appointed over the likes of Harry Redknapp. I would like to take the time to point out something. Following the resignation of Fabio Capello, the English fans clamored for an Enlish (or at least British) manager, arguing that only an English man would be able to properly lead the team. This, of course, is bull. Fabio Capello actually had the highest winning percentage of any England manager with 66.7% of matches won. In comparison, Sir Alf Ramsey, the manager who guided England to their only World Cup triumph, had a winning percentage of 61.1%.
Hodgson has yet to play a game with England. However, he does have quite the pedigree. What immediately comes to mind is his recent failure at Liverpool (though Kenny Dalglish just proved that that was probably not a one-off). Hodgson has been managing since 1976. His long career has included teams like Inter Milan, Fulham, Blackburn, and Udinese. This season, Hodgson guided West Brom to 10th in the league. He also has international experience, managing the UAE, Finland, and Switzerland. Hodgson did go out and say that he actually DOUBTS that England will win (gasp). I think most of the sensible people in the world agree with him.
You can expect England to show up in their recently 'revamped' white home kits. It looks like they will be wearing black and blue away kits. Interestingly enough, Google has made some sort of easter egg. If you type in "English National Team Nickname, you will see a nice little info section about the "Three Lions". I looked up the same information for different European countries' national team, without that sort of success. Hmm. I wonder what the FA is doing with all that money that they get...
As said above, Roy Hodgson is the (new) coach. It's unclear what lineup he will deploy, but it is expected that he will not play nearly as defensively as Capello. England is currently 7th in the World and 5th in Europe, according to FIFA. That, of course, is something of a joke. England is not good enough to be within 7 spaces of all of Spain, Holland, and Germany. The English style has traditionally been to kick the ball forward and allow the wingers or strikers to run on it, long ball if you will. This requires heavy defensive play and big, strong forwards, which the team does not have. The conundrum is explained here. If you will note, Peter Crouch is not on the list. Also of note, every single player on this team plays in the English Premier League, with only 9 teams represented. Make of that what you will.
Players of Mention
I have no idea why Walcott is listed as a mid. He typically plays on the wing, though he has stressed that he wants to play as a striker. Theo has had a fairly good (if not great) season. He scored 11 goals in all competitions, the second highest on the team. Walcott was somewhat inconsistent, with spells of brilliance as well as lean times. Indeed, among Arsenal fans (us) he is often called 'Invisible Theo' or 'Unlucky Theo'. However, Walcott did score several important goals, with the two against Spurs and Chelsea sticking out very much in my mind. In terms of abilities, Walcott is a very talented individual. He wields tremendous pace with some good positional skills. He has also become rather good at ground level crosses. Walcott had the most assists to Robin van Persie, the Premier League top scorer with 30, quite a few of which were low, across the face of goal. This season, Walcott has also improved in his aerial crossing. Those who detract from Theo complain that he has "no footballing brain". What that means, I am not sure. I've been told that it refers to Walcott's poor touch, poor aerial crossing ability (for an Englishman), poor dribbling skills, and poor positioning. Clearly, Walcott has some sort of footballing brain as he was a vital part in the Arsenal side that finished third despite a collapse at the very start of the season. Goals across the season, including the one against Spurs, show that he has a capable, if somewhat inconsistent, first touch. His goal against Chelsea showed that he can dribble (and that Chelsea suck). In International play, Walcott holds numerous distinctions, including, but not limited to: Youngest Player to start, Youngest Player to Score, and Youngest Player to score a hat-trick. After being left out of the 2010 World Cup, Fabio Capello admitted that not including Walcott in the squad was a mistake and that the player would have been useful against Algeria and Germany. Lionel Messi also commented on Walcott's absence. Expect Theo Walcott to stretch opponents thin while offering a viable attacking threat from the wing. Walcott will probably start, but that is not a for-sure thing.
Young Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain will be making his debut with the senior team if he appears in the Euros or the friendlies leading up to it. Affectionately known as "The Ox", Chamberlain was acquired from Southampton (who also produced Theo Walcott) to Arsenal over the summer. He appeared 16 times for the Gunners, scoring 2 goals. Might I add that he is 18? The Ox is looked at as something of a future prodigy. Like Walcott, he has pace and plays as a winger. However, he has also shown that he can dribble and create. He also demonstrated that he can play as a creative force, showing tremendous amounts of skill and discipline as a midfielder when Arsenal played AC Milan while suffering a midfield injury crisis. Arsène Wenger has been said to be interested in transforming Alex into a creative central midfielder. It should be noted that Oxlade-Chamberlain did not play any match for it's entirety. In international play, expect Alex to be an impact substitute on the wing.
The little Turncoat won the Champion's League with Chelsea playing Left back. That is the only reason he is on here, aside from the fact that England will likely lean heavily on it's defense due to the managerial change.
Scored in the loss against Holland. Likely replaces Center Back Rio Ferdinand who is probably missing because he is old. Cahill is 26, a full 7 years younger than Ferdinand. For more info, see Ashley Cole.
Terry's call up is... odd. Terry was once the captain of England but had that title stripped from him. If interested in the reason, look for it on google. I'll actually help. More recently, Terry has been accused of racial abusing Anton Ferdinand. Terry actually has criminal charges against him and will undergo trial after the Euros. That information prompted the FA to declare that Terry would not join the team, which prompted Fabio Capello to make several comments and then resign. It is interesting that Hodgson calls him up anyway. As a center back and captain with Chelsea, Terry won the Champion's League. Oh, wait, no he didn't. He was sitting on the bench instead of playing that day because he was an idiot and kneed a Barcelona player during the second leg of the final and nearly cost his team everything.
Fabio Capello said he was key, therefore, he has earned this spot on this list.
Frank Lampard Captain of the England squad. He recently won the Champion's League final with Chelsea where he was the interim captain due to Terry's idiocy. Lampard is (or was) one of Chelsea's best and most important players. Much of this because he is English. However, he has had his moments. He did score a goal against Germany in the World Cup, oh, um, apparently that one didn't count. Moving on... Due to his captaincy, you can expect him to play in most every match. This presents an issue as Gerrard is counted as one of England's best Midfielders and the two have a history of not playing together. Hodgson has stated that he wants the two to play together, so the question is, how will he do it?
The captain of Liverpool and one of their best players. See Frank Lampard.
Parker plays for Tottenham after being bought from relegated West Ham (who have been promoted back to the league). As a Center Defensive Midfielder, Parker is expected to control tempo, play some important passes, and guard the defense with some heavy, though usually precise, tackling. Parker is carrying an injury that led him to miss much of the close of the season. Without him, Spurs went on a tremendous skid. It is a doubt whether he will be ready for the Euro's. If not, expect him to be replaced from the roster. Scott Parker has been generally denied international football with only eleven caps to his name. He has emerged as one of England's better players in the position, despite his limited time with the national team. In fact, he was voted England Player of the Year in 2011. Note, Parker has been deemed fit enough to train with the squad, according to the BBC.
There really was going to be only one name on this list. Rooney has shown that he can play in deep as a creative attacking player. He also has a good bit of skill and an eye for goal. He has also become rather accustomed to flaunting his new transplanted hair. It is expected that he demonstrate all this during the Euro's. Well, at least one game, anyway. Wayne Rooney got himself sent off during the last qualifying match. He was handed down a 3 match ban but reduced it to two after an appeal. Of note, Rooney is only 26 and will likely be able to play in another 2 world cups and one, if not two, Euro Championships.
Chances in Euro 2012
There is certainly talent on this team. However, much of it is aging, with a considerable number of the starters in their 30's. There is also the fact that Rooney has been banned. Combine that with the tempers on this squad and the new managers and you may have a recipe for an exploding powder keg. If the team does not tear itself apart, they will probably find a spot in the knockout rounds. To get there, they merely need to pass an inconsistent France and
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Sweden. In the quarterfinals, they stand some sort of a chance. They will likely play either Spain or Italy, both of Group C. England beat Spain a few months ago, while Italy have been somewhat off since the World Cup collapse. It should be noted that both teams were undefeated during Euro qualifying, with Spain holding a perfect score. England's other options for the quarterfinals are Ireland and Croatia, both of whom are beatable.
Matches to Watch
England vs. France
These are the only decent teams in the group. Besides, don't the two kind of have a history of hating each other?
I think England will be decent in the Euro's. They certainly are the team to self-destruct, but I don't see that happening. I expect England to sail relatively cleanly (for England's standards) out of the group stage. Depending on how they play and their luck, they could go as far as the semifinals. However, I see them stopping at Spain or Italy. It's the Quarters for me.
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