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Monday, 11 June 2012

Euro 2012: Can England actually win the tournament?


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Euro 2012 is in full swing and shaping up to be a tournament we will never forget, but there are many questions that need answering. Just who will be lifting the coveted trophy aloft on July 1? What can England realistically achieve and who will be this summer’s surprise package?

I’ve put these questions to a number of football fans and here are their replies.

Squarefootball’s Chris Pettitt believes Germany are the team to beat, sees no reason why England can’t get to the semi-final and has high hopes for the Russians.

“Despite Germany's less than auspicious start against Ronaldo's mob at the weekend, I still believe that Joachim Loew's team have all the ingredients to go far. With goalkeeper Neuer, Schweinsteiger, Ozil and Gomez they have quality from back to front and the only possible thing that could stop them as far as I can see, is a late call-up for Geoff Hurst.

“Regarding England, there has been a prevailing, almost oxymoronic notion swirling around in the lead up to the Euros concerning England's chances. We are being told that expectations are at an all-time low, but this has perversely led to claims that the lack of expectancy will result in free and easy England performances thus raising the expectations.

“I have been more hopeful than that for a while anyway. I have great faith in England, and Hodgson particularly, despite the brief time he has had to cobble together a plan of action. I accept the arguments that outside of our first 11 we have limited resources, but aside from Spain that is an accusation you could level at the other big names too. I certainly expect us to progress from the group and after that, who knows? I would suggest semi-finals is probably our limit though.

“An argument could be made that England may be the surprise package. Otherwise, the dynamic start made by Russia catches the eye, as does Denmark's victory against the Dutch. I suspect though, that when it comes to the nitty gritty, it will be the usual suspects we see vying for the title.”

Squarefootball writer and Spurs fan Adam Crawford also believes the tournament is Germanys to lose and that England will fail to shine yet again.

“Germany have reached the last four of the past three international tournament and were runners-up in this tournament in 2008. I think they have quality throughout their team with players such as Ozil, Muller and Gomez who can score goals, but I think they are also defensively sound with four of the Bayern backline who can keep it tight at the back.

“However, it would be silly to write off Spain, who have won the past two international tournaments but have they got the hunger? Furthermore they are missing two of their most influential players in David Villa and the captain Carlos Puyol, who could be big misses for them.

“I think that England will get out of the group but not progress any further. However, I think it depends on their quarter-final opponents. If it is Spain then England will not beat them. On the other hand if they face Italy then I think they will progress to the semi-finals.

“I think that Russia could be this year’s surprise package as they were very good against the Czechs, but the problem is that when they come up against tougher opposition do they have the quality to beat superior opposition? I also think that Italy should not be discounted from going far in the tournament.”

West Ham fan and Squarefootball writer Mitch Waddon thinks Germany also have the trophy in the bag and that England’s path depends on whether they top their group or not.

“I’m going to go with Germany. I think they’ll have too much for any other team to deal with.

“Regarding England I think that, if we can finish top of the group, then we could reach the semi-finals, given they’d probably play either Italy or Croatia or Ireland in the quarters. If we finish second, then I don’t see us getting past Spain.

“Russia could spring a huge surprise and it’ll be silly to rule out Portugal.”

Fellow Squarefootball writer Hugh Larkin is also backing the Germans, thinks England will reach the last eight and that Russia are the team to watch and that view is shared entirely by Middlesbrough fan Sue Gardener.

Bolton Wanderers supporter David Blackburn thinks Spain are going to create history by winning their third major trophy in a row and that England could snore their way to the semis.

“Spain have to be everyone’s favourites and I don't think they will disappoint.

“What will England do? They will get through the group stages although you won't see many goals in their games. Roy is renowned for his strong defences and relies on the break as per the friendlies that we have seen and I think a couple of 1-0 wins and a draw will do it. We may get to the semis but if I were a betting man we will get knocked out (probably on pens) at the quarter-final stage.”

“Surprise package? I think Sweden could be worth an outside bet.”

And Blackburn Rovers man Terry Kennedy is also backing the Spaniards, think England will reach the last eight and that the Republic of Ireland could cause an upset or too.

Fulham fan Neil Springate believes the trophy could be heading to Russia, England will reach the semi-final and that Italy could be the surprise package.

It appears that most people seem to be down on England’s chances of success, but not West Brom fan Andy Wakeman. He believes the Baggies’ former boss can end England’s 46 years of hurt on the main stage.

“England are going to win. I think the enforced changes will work to our advantage and suspect that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a revelation.

“Denmark will be the surprise package. They have no real stars but they do have some quality in key positions."

Personally, my money is on the Germans. They look strong and are always there or thereabouts when the medals are handed out. England go into the tournament with nothing to lose. No-one, apart from Andy Wakeman, appears to be giving them any chance so they could surprise a few people. In saying that my surprise package has to be Italy. With all the match-fixing claims back home, the Italians could well give their people something to be proud of.

So there you have it. They are the views of our straw poll of football fans, but what do you think? We’d love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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