There’s still six months to go until the opening of the Euro’s but why not analyse England’s chances at a major tournament again to see if this time we can outperform our now even lower expectations. If you haven’t heard yet England are in Group B alongside Slovakia, Wales and Russia. The general consensus has being that we’ve got an easy group, which is right when you consider The Republic of Ireland are in a group with four time world cup winner and one time Euro’s winner Italy as well as the current top seed Belgium, not forgetting a strong Ibra led Swedish side. However, with an England side seeming to lack confidence in recent years in the big competitions this group is no push over.
Since the departure of Fabio Capello the Russians have lucked dangerous. They have won five out of six games under new manager Slutsky whilst keeping four clean sheets in the process. Russia are the only team in the group to have won the competition before which shouldn’t be taken lightly. With their recent upsurge and the solidarity of the Russian defense England’s first attempt at gaining points could be hardly fought.
Prior to qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016, Wales had only qualified for a major international tournament once in their history; they aren’t going to want to give up this opportunity lightly.
There’s just no way we can’t discuss the importance of Bale when analysing Wales’ threat to England. One statistic that highlights his importance yet doesn’t help the case for Wales being classed as a one man team is the fact that Bale won Wales 11 points during qualifying after being involved in eight of Wales’ nine goals (6 goals and 2 assists) more than any other player. Its obvious that without Bale Wales would have struggled, but the extent of his impact is astounding. Away from the goals and assists he has epitamises the energy and morale that was present through the glorious Euro qualifying campaign for Wales.
On paper this should be a comfortable victory for England with England’s depth in quality, but what England lack is a Bale, someone who can take the game by the scuff of the neck and individually change turn a negative scoreline into a positive one.
Again this should be another England victory but football and England are wildly unpredictable. Slovakia are considered the weakling in the group but were the only team to beat Spain en route to qualifying. This was something England failed to accomplish in a friendly against the same opponents. One player England will have to have on their radar is Marek Hamsik, a skillful individual whose incisive runs can potentially cause havoc. Despite outscoring Wales in qualifying they conceded the most out of England, Russia and Wales, this is evidence for their small opportunity for an upset.