Youthful Enthusiasm and Goalscorers - The perfect combination for England
Euro 2016 Preview: England
1. Low Expectations
After a flawless qualifying campaign which saw England win all ten games, scoring 31 goals and conceding just three, England fans should already be getting misspelt tattoos declaring themselves champions. The embarrassment of Brazil is still being felt and the usual blind optimism has been replaced by more of a ‘let’s see what happens’ attitude.
In the media Roy Hodgson comes across as being about as inspiring as a slice of unbuttered toast. Even if that holds true inside the dressing room he has a squad full of young and enthusiastic players, many of whom have enjoyed surprisingly successful seasons, who may only need a manager to point them in the right direction and give them a few vaguely encouraging words. The media at home is lacking the rabid insistance of England’s impending glory which once accompanied every tournament. Less pressure and lower expectations could be the key to success but best be quiet about it.
- England to Finish Top of Group B –
2. Alli and Kane connection
Last season Tottenham Hotspur lost 3 of the 32 games Dele Alli and Harry Kane both played in. They lost 8 of the 21 games when one or both was missing. Ali won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and Harry Kane secured the Golden Boot with 25 league goals. His second consecutive season of more than 20 league goals during which time he has also scored 5 goals in 11 games for England. Alli scored 10 Premier League goals of his own as well providing 9 assists.
- Harry Kane to be the Tournament Top goalscorer –
Coming in to the international set-up with a ready made attacking link is massive for an England side which can look disjointed going forward at times. The key to the impact of this pairing will be if and where Roy Hodgson plays Wayne Rooney. Alli is at his best when he’s the most attacking midfielder but if Rooney is allowed to roam the Spurs man won’t have the space to work. This is a link-up that works and could be the key to England’s attacking play if the manager has the courage to make Rooney unhappy.
3. Vardy off the bench
It seems most likely that Harry Kane or possibly Daniel Sturridge will get the nod ahead of Vardy early on in the tournament. Hodgson isn’t going to drop Wayne Rooney simply because he’s Wayne Rooney and Hodgson is hardly the most radical and daring of managers. That does mean that the manager has a hungry and in-form striker bubbling away on the bench, waiting for an opportunity. The Leicester striker’s goals led his team to a still unbelievable Premier League title win. A title which was won by holding their nerve when all around them crumbled.
Not just is Vardy in the form of his career but he now has to believe that pretty much anything is possible. Four years ago he was playing non-league football, now he’s a Premier League champion, who just got married in front of a host of celebrities a few weeks before heading to the Euros with England. Whether he starts or not Vardy could be a key factor in a successful tournament for England. A constant goal threat who won’t stop running, won’t stop believing and could show the way to his team-mates if they find themselves in the trenches.
- Vardy to be England’s Top Goalscorer –
Counter-attacking football is very much the in thing these days and with a tough group to get through before making it to the knockout stages England face a tough road. In tight games where they find themselves being pinned back there is pace throughout the team to hit opponents on the counter-attack. Vardy has mastered the art with Leicester this season and the Tottenham contingent made fast, flowing moves their calling card at club level. Add in Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Andros Townsend and Daniel Sturridge (potentially) and England have pace to burn going forward. Hodgson also has an array of pacy attacking full-backs at his disposal.
- England to score Over 4.5 Group Goals –
5. 50th Anniversary
It’s been half a century since England won the World Cup in 1966. 50 is a nice round number for all that pain, which has faded of late, to come to an end as well as a fitting tribute to those remaining 1966 World Cup winners. It’s a tentative way to round of the list but still, you know, it has been exactly 50 years. Stranger reasons have been given and stranger things have happened.
- England to win Euro 2016 –