Euro 2012 guide: England

ONE TO WATCH: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
ONE TO WATCH: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

EXPECTATIONS seem to be a lot lower this time around given the team’s preparations so far.

They had no manager a few weeks ago until appointing Roy Hodgson and will have a number of players out including Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker. Their best player Wayne Rooney will also miss the first two games due to suspension so rather than the usual hype about the team’s chances the build up has been calmer and expectations arguably much more realistic. However, there are those who think that the reduced expectation could actually help the team come June.

Coach

Not the popular choice, but perhaps the better one, Roy Hodgson will send out a team that is rigid and organised. If Hodgson manages to get his ideas across in training then England should become a hard team to beat who could be dangerous with quick counter attacks. The much travelled Hodgson has had success, both recently and in the past, with less fancied teams such as Fulham and Switzerland and could do it again here.

Key player

Despite missing the first two games, Wayne Rooney will still be very important if England are to have a good tournament. He will either play as the lone front man or behind a striker and will be the main source of creativity to the team, if he’s on form. Rooney was dreadful at the 2010 world cup and will be hoping to produce more of the form that excited England fans in Euro 2004.

One to watch

Never before capped by his country at senior level, yet an inclusion welcomed by everyone, Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Champerlain will be going to his first major tournament in his breakout season. Comfortable on either flank or even in the centre ‘The OX’ possess powerful running, the ability to take players on and a seemingly big match temperament. Despite a collection of wingers in the England 23 Oxlade- Chamberlain has the ability to offer something a bit different.

Why they could have a good tournament...

Hodgson will make sure England are well drilled defensively which could work to England’s main strength which is the speed they possess. If England can launch quick counter attacks to their fast wingers such as Ashley Young and Theo Walcott it may be the best source of creating opportunities. Rooney’s return in the third game, which could be knockout style match against the Ukraine, will give the squad a massive boost.

Why they could have a bad tournament...

With the loss of Wilshere England are less likely to be able to keep possession as well, especially against the better teams. John Terry has provided plenty of debate with off the pitch issues but it could be on the pitch where he could be England’s biggest weakness. Terry was run ragged by Germany two years ago and has shown more signs of decline this season with poor errors against Arsenal and Liverpool. Many where calling for him not to be included in the squad, but instead, Hodgson dropped Rio Ferdinand, a player who’s had a much more solid season having got over long term injury problems.