If, like me, you’re football void weekends have been a painful battle of daft transfer rumours and YouTube compilations, you’re going to be pretty excited at the prospect of a month long tournament! Yes, Euro 2016 kicks off later today down in France. Football is back. Rejoice! So in spirit, here’s 12 reasons England will win the whole thing. Because, why not?! (And we love over-egging something):
1. Goals, goals, goals!
We bagged loads of goals last season, especially two fellas in particular. Kane and Vardy were pretty much the talk of the town and led Tottenham and Leicester respectively to their best seasons ever. Throw a Europa League Final scoring Sturridge into the mix, add in the emergence of hot talent Marcus Rashford, and wiley old head Rooney, and you’ve got goals!
For the first time since Euro 2000, England head to an international tournament with two strikers who have just completed 20-goal Premier League seasons – can you name them?
2. Because Leicester did it
Yeah, ‘cos everyone expected that to happen, didn’t they?! Did they heck, and that probably bodes well for England, despite not being as far out in the odds. Maybe it’s the year of the underdog. One fairytale has already been written in Blighty, why not another?
Leicester have shown the whole squad that anything can happen with a bit of steely grit and desire. Hopefully Vardy’s winning mentality and first trophy will whet the appetite of others, just feels a shame there aren’t more Premier League winners in the squad.
3. The draw & tournament structure
England have a favourable group stage draw – Wales are their highest-ranked opponent, at 24 in the world – and so winning all three group games is a distinct and realistic possibility for Hodgson’s men.
Beyond that, England could avoid any of the heavyweights until the semi-final stage, meaning they could only need two serious upsets to make history due to the Euros being expanded to 24 teams where four of the six first-place teams (those that win groups A, B, C and D) play sides that finished third in their group.
England, in Group B, will likely play the third-placed team from Group A or D in the second round, which is handy, to say the least.
4. Joe Hart’s penalty record
Penalty’s are a lottery. Cliché, but true. The ‘keeper shouldn’t really have any right to save one, but specialising in getting your big frame in the way of a Pirlo Paneka would have been a start last time round.
Alas, Joe Hart was unable to do so, but his record since has improved considerably. Hart has saved 5 out of the 11 penalties he’s faced since Euro 2012, decent, but we’re going to probably need him to save some more going by England’s record in tournament football!
Ah, the exuberance of youth. Fearless. Many of these lads were in nappy’s when Southgate was launching a Pizza Hut advertising career, and being naff at pens in his spare time.
It’s a young squad. But a squad who’ve experienced good things with their domestic clubs this season. Rashford, Kane, Alli, Dier. They shouldn’t be feeling or playing with pressure, ‘cos there isn’t any really. Not on them. They’ve never stumbled at international tournaments before. Fresh legs. Fresh minds. Fresh lineup.
The old guard, Rooney, Milner, Cahill, should feel that a bit more, but have the experience to deal with it.
Let’s hope exuberance out performs naivety.
6. There is no obvious favourite
The French dominated the turn of the century, the Spanish cleared up everything and anything from 2008 to 2012, and the Germans (in typical Germany efficiency) have plugged away throughout. Before that the Dutch were world-beaters, although their trophy haul doesn’t quite reflect that.
This year, everyone has issues. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion. There’s no clear favourites, and people are talking about Austria’s unbeaten qualifying campaign. Denmark ’92, anyone?
7. It’s in France
Everyone’s done a holiday in France, right? You can bet that Roy’s 23 have. It’s in France. The tournament’s in France. That’s got to be in a positive. Weather, scenery, familiarity. No excuses this time round.
The first game against Russia is at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, which might be a bit warmer than usual, but the rest of the group matches are up north. And everyone knows it’s grim up north, eh?!
8. Players picked on form
Well, ish anyway.
You can argue that Danny Drinkwater should have been included ahead of golden boy Jack Wilshere, or Jordan Henderson, but the Hodge has largely picked a squad of players in form. Hence the load of Spurs players!
9. It’s going to be our year…
…this time, surely?!