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No easy ride for England at Euros

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Phil McNulty | 20:00 UK time, Friday, 2 December 2011

England may have dodged the most dangerous group of all at the 2012 European Championship draw in Kiev's Palace of Arts - but a glance at the opponents they must face in Ukraine will act as an instant shield against complacency.

The time-honoured "Group of Death" next summer will be that containing Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Portugal - with Republic of Ireland also handed a tough assignment against Spain, Italy and Croatia.

It is one of the beauties of the Euros that there is little time for any team to get their eye in, so England coach Fabio Capello will only have felt slight relief at being drawn in Group D with co-hosts Ukraine, Sweden and France.

None make a compelling case to be ranked among the firm favourites for Euro 2012, but all will feel confident of making England's route to the quarter-finals as treacherous as possible.

England must also overcome the logistical problems of basing themselves in Krakow in Poland while playing all their group matches in Ukraine, with the first game against France in Donetsk on 11 June, Sweden in Kiev four days later and then finishing off against the co-hosts back in Donetsk on 19 June.

The Football Association laid meticulous plans for such an eventuality and although Capello insisted straight after the draw that England will not abandon their Polish base, the Three Lions' supporters face arduous journeys across Ukraine.

The initial reaction of optimism about England's ambitions was partly prompted by avoiding the two toughest groups. Capello can be confident but history tells us there is a real warning already attached to their campaign.

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Irrespective of the absence of Wayne Rooney, England's finest player, through suspension, each opponent will believe they have realistic chances of seriously troubling Capello's side.

France - rebuilding under Laurent Blanc after the unqualified fiasco of the World Cup in South Africa - are unbeaten in their last five games against England, winning four of them. It was only in November last year that France's 2-1 win at Wembley did little justice to their superiority.

Sweden are old and difficult adversaries. England's recent Wembley win was their first against them since 1968 and no matter how pedestrian they looked on that night the game will be raised in the competitive environment of Euro 2012.

Ukraine may be down at 55 in the Fifa rankings but any meeting with co-hosts is a guarantee of atmosphere and hostility. Oleg Blokhin's team will be lifted by the home crowd, no matter how lowly they stand.

Stellar names are in short supply but they have an outstanding young talent in Dynamo Kiev's Andrey Yarmolenko, who is their big hope with ageing legend Andrey Shevchenko troubled by injury.

Capello's first competitive defeat was against Ukraine - he will hope this game is not his last as he prepares to leave his post.

Throw in England's previous trouble with hosts, losing to Italy in 1980, Sweden in 1992 and on penalties to Portugal in 2004 and once again it proves any premature triumphalism can be dismissed instantly.

And even if England do manage to navigate a way out, the quarter-final will pit them against Spain, Italy, the Republic of Ireland or Croatia to underscore the ever-present difficulties lurking in the Euros.

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is one of the old masters of the coaching world and the great man will relish plotting a way past world and European champions Spain, his native country Italy and Croatia.

They will be outsiders in their group but, backed by the green army that will descend on Euro 2012, no-one should dismiss their chances. They have been carried along on that wave of support and passion before.

So the prospect of a quarter-final meeting between England and Republic is on the agenda - but much will need to happen and tough opponents will need to be overcome before that happens.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    wow. such optimism.
    one extreme to the other yet again phil.

  • Comment number 2.

    i mean come on? really? imagine if we go out in the group stages. oh its because we were based in poland, not the ukraine. nothing to do with it. the england team can afford about 5 different modes of transport to get to the games if they wanted too. sort it out phil.

  • Comment number 3.

    England will meet Spain in the quarters. This will be Cappello's biggest test. Also a big decision, do you throw rooney back in after an (assumedly) successful group stage without him? I think no. We need the extra midfielder.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well before Mr Patch turns this into an EPL v La Liga debate...

    None of the groups are easy and were never going to be. The travelling will be the least of the concerns after the usual media hounding as Im sure there will be some negative story dragged up just before, to give the team and good old fashioned moral boost the only way our journalists know how.

    Then there will be the strange team selection when a player on top form gets left out for one on the "old guard", before we are dumped out on penalties.

    This is one of those occasions where I would love to be proved wrong :)

  • Comment number 5.

    DON'T FEED THE TROLL!!

    Anyway, there's plenty of time to re-arrange the base, just get on with it for goodness sake.

  • Comment number 6.

    i'd say around march/april next year, it will come out in the paper about john terry having an affair with mrs capello.

  • Comment number 7.

    I hope your tone of having already accepted defeat doesn't spread amongst other readers

  • Comment number 8.

    The logistics of travel are the least of England's worries. There is still months of media hype to get through, another scandal involving Rooney/Terry/take your pick, another 400 league/fa cup/champions league matches to negotiate, which will leave the players as fresh as daisies, and the nightmare task of hearing Robbie Savage/Ian Wright's views, and fighting the urge to ask yourself why am I not a pundit? I can state the obvious all day and night.

    I think England will exit at the group stage. Defeat to France, a draw with Sweden that has 1-1 written all over it, and a 'brave' win over ukraine with england hanging on for the last 20mins. Don't believe me? Cast your minds back to last summer.

    And if your wondering, yes I am bitter. Following Graham Taylor and Phil Neal round Europe can do that to a man.

  • Comment number 9.

    For me its not right going into a tournament with a manger that win or lose knows they are moving on. Im sure Mr Capello will be professional and all that but to win a mojor tournament you need a leader that wants it more just that little but more. As a gooner I can't wait till Harry is given the job, disprupts Spurs :) and he would be great for England.

  • Comment number 10.

    How England play will determine how far we get in the tournament, nothing else. If we play well, we've got a decent enough shout of making it out of the group. If we don't, we won't. These guys are used to playing a PL game at the weekend, going abroad for a midweek CL match and back again for a PL game the next weekend. Playing matches in Ukraine but having our base in Poland shouldn't be an issue.

  • Comment number 11.

    A bit of trivia; i learnt recently that the Ukraine's blue and yellow flag deliberately echoes Sweden's - the two countries have cultural and political ties stretching back into the dim and distant past. Fascinating.

  • Comment number 12.

    t4rkadal
    @9

    For me its not right going into a tournament with a manger that win or lose knows they are moving on.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If only I believed in omens, England's last 2 real performances at a championship, where they reached the semis and were arguably unlucky not to make the final.
    Guess what both times the manager was moving on after the tournament.

    I am clutching at straws.

  • Comment number 13.

    t4rkadal;

    A silver lining to Tottenham's looming exit from the Europa League could be that Harry Redknapp is less bankable for the England job, leaving the way open for back-to-back domestic league titles...

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr Capello - either play the team you want to play and literally go for it from the first whistle or pick a side that might not win you, nor even get out the group, but will help England football in the future - whatever you do don't be half-a*sed and pick a couple "fan favourites" to do all the running of the "old guard" but can't change games and an "old guard" that can't be bothered and are waiting for a phone call from UAE or Anzhi to earn another few gazillion in a tax efficent manner like 24k gold buckets....

  • Comment number 15.

    12.
    At 21:14 2nd Dec 2011, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    I am clutching at straws.
    --------------------------------------
    Would love to be proved wrong - Ill be clutching too

  • Comment number 16.

    Why bother?
    And the winner will be ... Germany or Spain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Its an easy ride. If we cant get through that group, as some idiot would say, they should be put against a wall and shot.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 14

    Spot on!!! I think with Capello going it is a real chance to actually just go out there and play football. I think we should go for a team that has 6 solid defensive players and then 4 forwards that will interchange positions and really attack as much as possible! Lets not look to the old guard. Only issue we really have is not having a decent striker, but then Spain do alright without playing an out an out striker!

  • Comment number 19.

    England will probably get out of the group behind France but have no chance of progressing far in the tournament.
    England simply lack the technical ability to keep possession which is key in international football and don't have enough world class players to mount a serious challenge.
    Also it is still unclear what exactly happened in the camp at the world cup in South Africa. Will those issues resurface under Capello?
    Finally a long league season will mean most players are too fatigued to give their best.
    Sorry but it will be the same old story yet again.

  • Comment number 20.

    Anyone listen to 5live earlier? at just after half 6 they spoke to journo's from each country in England’s group. When asked how good's your team all seemed to reply 'not very at the moment'. That means we might have a chance overall?

  • Comment number 21.

    Also no English team looks like going very far in Champs league so that’s gotta help?

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 16

    you may possibly be right. the winner will probbly be Germany or Spain, Maybe even Holland if they play the way we all know they can. But We should all be getting behind England and just hope that they at least show that we can hold our own even if we don't win it.

  • Comment number 23.

    No easy ride? Perhaps, but we are in the 2nd best group to be in. But then, how many times have we heard that before?!

  • Comment number 24.

    Think back to last World Cup when we, according to the Sun headline, had an EASY group (England, Algeria, Slovenia and Yanks) and how we just breezed through that!!... Often we seem to do better when each game is a really tough test.

    It really comes down to how fresh and up for it the players are...and that is much about them (their attitude, form etc) as it is the management team's ability to get the preparation and tactics right.

    We are not as good a team as some, but I honestly think that a lot of our players would be respected by the other teams, maybe even a few that would be warmly welcomed into their squad.

    We just need to go in without fear, picking the players who are fit, on form and focused and play our game (which is battle to the end, and use pace and strength especially on the counter attack). Learn from Germany and give the young guns a chance.

    I can honestly see us getting out of the group with 5 points, and then it is a cup final each time...and remember, brilliant though they are, Spain won 1-0 in each game after the group phase in the last World Cup...and that is all that you have to do (just ask George Graham's very successful Arsenal, or even our recent result against Spain).

  • Comment number 25.

    As always in these tournaments, Englands worst enemy will be themselves.

  • Comment number 26.

    Now that the draw has cemented the fact that England will get knocked out in the group stages, it certainly clears up Fabio's theoretical ''dilemma'', vis a vis Rooney's selection.

    My expert picks for England's games:

    England 1 (og) France 4 (Benzema 2, Varane, Rami)

    England 0 Sweden 3 (Ibrahimovic hat-trick)

    England 0 Ukraine 2 (Chygrynskiy, Shevchenko)

    Bon chance, France, but adieu England. The Three Lions will fall tamely at le premier hurdle.

    Also, a nice, easy group for the sizzling, sensational, sparkling Spanish pros. Drawing whipping-boys ''England Z'', oops, I mean Republic of Ireland, and having ''pipe and slippers'' games against Italy and Croatia, means that Del Bosque and his brave soldiers can already book a quarter-final against the Ukraine in Donestsk, and then a semi against probably Germany or the Netherlands at the same venue.

  • Comment number 27.

    Easiest group for England. Expect to hear all the excuses before a ball is kicked.

  • Comment number 28.

    Most England fans have got to be pleased with the draw.

    The draw offers some hope for England to get out of the group phase and into the knockout stages.

    No doubt the press tomorrow will 'big-up' England's chances, but let's just be realistic. England are no longer world class, but an average international side. Let's be glad we are actually at the tournament and enjoy it if possible!

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Following the 2010 reality check, this is the first time I can remember going into an international tournament that England were not considered among the potential winners. I can even remember the days when we were among the title favourites - not that it did us any good! And that's the whole point. Who cares about expectations, let's just get behind the team and cheer them on. Are we capable of winning all the group matches - yes! Are we capable of losing them all - yes, that too! But if the team corresponds positively on the pitch to the support it's getting (as opposed to the usual crumbling under the weight of expectations) then who knows how far we can go. No-one ever won a trophy on paper (except in board games :o)

  • Comment number 31.

    29. At 21:56 2nd Dec 2011, UNITED19woohoo wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not Scottish. Scotland are a pub team, and the SPL is a joke league which is almost as predictable and uncompetitive as the EPL.

    However, I will say something for the Scottish national side: when I watched them against Spain in both of their qualification games, the Scots played with pride and backbone. When I watched England play Spain recently, the English just cowered and quivered inside their own penalty area for the best part of 85 minutes.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think that most fans realise that we aren't even going to be favorites to get out of this group. Its a tough group but then to be fair, they all are. spain should win theirs just because they are so good, Germany should win theirs for te same reason, other than that, it could get very intersting.

    I just think most England fans will be happy as long as we play to the best of our abilities and show some pride in the shirt. If we fall short and aren't good enough, then so be it. but lets at least give it a good go!

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    I bet everyone in Russia was delighted by that draw; got the worst teams from every pot and who knows if Greece can even afford to go to euro ;)
    A tough group for England, but far from the toughest as groups B and C are just ridiculously competitive; however this is the nature of the current euro system.
    If England want to have a relatively successful tournament then youth and pace will have to be utilised and dominated in the squad selection for the tournament.
    Hopefully Capello won't pick Wayne Rooney. he'll probably only pick up a red card If he plays in the knockout stages anyway.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's definitely going to be a great and exciting tournament. England fans have every reason not to be upbeat about their team's chances due to recent disappointments. I'm Nigerian,and if you guys put yourselves in our shoes,I can imagine which hurts more.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 31

    "However, I will say something for the Scottish national side: when I watched them against Spain in both of their qualification games, the Scots played with pride and backbone. When I watched England play Spain recently, the English just cowered and quivered inside their own penalty area for the best part of 85 minutes."

    And Scotland lost...England Won!!

    Performance doesn't win you points.....goals do, and spain couldn't even score against our second choice centre backs.

    but congratulations on having 65% of possession and doing nothing with it!

  • Comment number 38.

    @34
    Soul just over exaggerates bias beliefs in an attempt to infuriate and aggrivate the British public who utilise such blogs; his methods clearly work however the purpose of such tactics is rather pointless.
    In short, its just trolling when related to England or the EPL.

  • Comment number 39.

    Agree with Heskeys_Heroes.

    Reading through various football blogs over the last month or so, it's the same old pointless boring drivel posting by Mr Wet Patch.

    EPL this, La Liga that, pub teams, Sizzling this. Very boring, extremely repetative, patronising rubbish!

    Getting back to point, England are nowhere near to being leading contenders to win this thing. But remembering that this is a knockout tournament ignites some hope of a shock win, albeit a small hope.

    Like others have said, I would like Capello to be brave with selection. Try it the Germany way, and give the young blood a chance. Nothing to lose, since the rational people of the national don't expect anything other than a group or QF exit.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ahh, here we go...the hype has started already and we haven't seen the back of '11 yet. But at least we beat Spain this year so we must be the best in the world...

    Sweden, France..its like Euro 92. I can still hear Graham Tayor's words...get the beers in, sit back and watch England win Euro '92. Back home after three awful group games. Priceless.

    Loving all the discussion over the venues and England having to travel around over 5000 miles to play the games. Excuses up and running early...Its all going to plan.


    But seriously.. There should be just enough in the tank to get past Sweden, France will be very difficult - they have improved since pipping England to most woeful performers in SA - but the Ukraine at home in front of a partisan crowd is anybody's guess.

    We'll possibly stagger into the quarters if all vaguely goes to plan and then go out once we have to play a decent team. But we are just as likely to go out in the Group Stages.

    I haven't seen anything since the WC that gives me any real hope things will change next Summer.

    Question: When did England last beat a top ranked team in open play in a Major Tourney?
    Answers on a Postage Stamp please. (Clue, it was back in 1966..and before people say Germany in Euro 2000 - they were not a top ranked side!)

    Predicition - Germany to win..Denmark to have a good tournament.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh, I would stake any amount of money that Wet Patch isn't even Spanish.

    Just someone who latches onto success and loves winding people up.

    Most likely a Scot, although could even be English! No way he's Spanish though.

  • Comment number 42.

    how bout we all ignore the silly soul...remember when your older sibling use to tease you and your mom just told you to ignore him, well it really works...CMON ENGLAND CMON ENGLAND another summer with dreams and songs to sing with hope in our hearts

  • Comment number 43.

    37. At 22:10 2nd Dec 2011, Liverpaul85 wrote:

    but congratulations on having 65% of possession and doing nothing with it!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Behave yourself.

    If the Belgian officials had officiated that game correctly, then it would have been about 3-0 to Spain, at least.

    Milner auditioning for a Tchaikovsky ballet to win a free-kick.

    England subsequently ''score'' a goal when Lampard is blatantly offside.

    Milner should have walked for a cynical two-footed lunge.

    Fabulous Fabregas denied a stonewall penalty.

    That blonde-haired English keeper - whose name escapes me at the moment - must have taken a combined total of about 15 minutes for 6 goal-kicks.

    I could go on and on and on and on.

  • Comment number 44.

    No easy ride is good for England, If we had been drawn in the 'easy' group there would be too much complacency and we would be spending the next seven months wondering who we could face in the quarter-finals only to fail miserably iin the group.
    Each team England faces is capable of beating them so it means we KNOW we will have to be at our best, and that's a good thing.

    And I fancy Ireland to come up against a complacent Spanish team, pull the shock result, but still fail to qualify.

  • Comment number 45.

    A month can be a long time in football, let alone 7 months. It's no use guessing whose going to win it now.

    There's probably at least 6 or 7 genuine contenders who with a bit of luck could go all the way. Yes fortune does come into it, the odd Ref's decision, no it's probably going to be the many refereeing gaffs. Key injuries and that's before the tournament starts. Are england one of the contenders with a shout? Yes, if we get the blend right and that little bit of luck at the crucial time, then why not.

  • Comment number 46.

    40. At 22:16 2nd Dec 2011, EarlsfieldOwl wrote:

    Denmark to have a good tournament.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Denmark are a very good side at the moment, but are probably the unluckiest team in the whole tournament. Being drawn with Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Ouch!

    Now that's a group which the term ''group of death'' was made for!

  • Comment number 47.

    lol@40

    Denmark are gonna have to be sensational to 'have a good tournament', but best of luck to them.

    England have enough to talent make a serious impact, I'm just not sure Cappello can organise them.

  • Comment number 48.

    Phil McNulty,

    I think you under estimate the size of England's task in just qualifying from this group.
    England's form against France is very poor and pretty average against Sweden. As the fixtures stand England's fortunes will probably depend on the final group game against Ukraine.
    Ukraine will be packing in some 40,000 home supporters in a 52,000 stadium for that last game in Donetsk. The atmosphere will be highly partisan to the home team and England do not do as well when they are playing away from home.

    In summary, I would not be shocked if England even fail to qualify from this group but they certainly can qualify from that group. However, I do not see it as easy as many writers are claiming.

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 43

    And yet the record book still states we beat you 1-0. and the scots lost. If we manage to do the exactly the same thing through the entire euro's i would still class it as a great win!

    winning is winning, spain know all about that and they are a class team, just a shame they have such muppets clinging on to their success and trying to wind everyone up.

    if you are against everything English as much as you say, then why are you so interested in our travelling over the course of the tournament? Why read the blog? why comment? why reel off the same drivel in every post?

    answers to.....

  • Comment number 50.

    44. At 22:21 2nd Dec 2011, cliveeta wrote:

    And I fancy Ireland to come up against a complacent Spanish team, pull the shock result, but still fail to qualify.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Spanish are consummate pros - they don't get complacent.

    The only ''shock'' that whipping-boys England ''Z'', oops, I mean the Republic of Ireland, could cause against Spain, is if they somehow keep the scintillating Spaniards from scoring at least 5.

  • Comment number 51.

    'Irrespective of the absence of Wayne Rooney, England's finest player, through suspension....' - the only critism I have of this blog is that this is stated as a fact rather than a debatable opinion.
    @40
    Arguably Italy had the worst world cup campaign as well as France. It also has to be remembered that Brazil had a poor world cup as well as England so I wouldn't ponder about it too much; none of the 4 teams above are bad, they just had a poor wc.

  • Comment number 52.

    Guys, just ignore the troll - it's people like him that killed 606.

    @48 I don't think any England fans will be underestimating the task ahead - all these games are really tough.

    Maybe there is a sense of relief that England didn't draw some of the 'big names', but that is all misleading, after all we have seen Denmark and Greece win this tournament recently.

  • Comment number 53.

    Here's a question for you Soul Patch. Who is the better team? Germany or Holland?

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 48

    "England do not do as well when they are playing away from home."

    englands record at the new wembley isn't brilliant, we have been playing our best football away from home recently (Montenegro game excluded). I think it will just be good for England if we can just keep the hype down. And i think most supporters are realistic enough to know that we could struggle in this group

  • Comment number 55.

    50. At 22:29 2nd Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What exactly do you mean by 'England Z?'
    I'm looking forward to reading this.

  • Comment number 56.

    General odds to win group D

    England 6/4
    France 2/1
    Ukraine 9/2
    Sweden 11/2

    Lol at England being installed favourites to win the group.

  • Comment number 57.

    I hardly ever comment on here any more (Bring back 606)

    Must admit tho, Soul-Patch is proper funny. Why not go and stick a fiver on each of those predictions and you'll be able to retire.

    Can't wait for his beloved Spain to get turned over by the ROI

    Then get smashed off England in the quarters

  • Comment number 58.

    56. At 22:37 2nd Dec 2011, UNITED19woohoo wrote:
    General odds to win group D

    England 6/4
    France 2/1
    Ukraine 9/2
    Sweden 11/2

    Lol at England being installed favourites to win the group.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The odds are always artificially low for England in major tournaments.

  • Comment number 59.

    Like in any English team game, we just simply need to start believing as a team. I know it won't happen, but no matter the talent or the execution of the talent if you believe it you will do better than if you don't. Any team can beat it's opponent on the day, you just have to work harder than the other. As a team. Not as individuals. Simple. Pick on form. Play for each other. Nobody else. 3 lions.

  • Comment number 60.

    @56
    England (for what reasons I am actually not sure) are ranked 5th in the world and 4th in Europe by fifa rankings; i'm not too suprised that we're favourites to win the group.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 56

    Are those really the general odds?? that is a joke!!! england should not be favourites by any means. Don't think their is a favourite in that group. All could beat each other

  • Comment number 62.

    53. At 22:33 2nd Dec 2011, The_Soul_Patch_Of_David_Silva wrote:

    Here's a question for you Soul Patch. Who is the better team? Germany or Holland?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the moment I'd say it's Germany, especially as they possess one of the best creative midfielders in the world, mesmeric Mesut Özil.

    I wouldn't put too much credence into Germany's 3-0 victory over the Netherlands in one a recent meaningless kickabout.

    The Netherlands have been a little off-colour lately, but England in February provides the perfect canvas for the Dutch Masters to create another masterpiece.

  • Comment number 63.

    @56 & 58

    Betting odds are determined on how many people bet on an outcome, as well as the probability of something happening.

    So England's odd are always shorter because a lot of people beat on them

  • Comment number 64.

    58. At 22:39 2nd Dec 2011, Paul_Mersons_Blue_Pen wrote:

    The odds are always artificially low for England in major tournaments.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's why - with the advent of exchanges - I always make a nice profit by laying England in any sporting event.

    The odds are always ridiculously low, and there's no chance of ever losing the bet.

  • Comment number 65.

    *Bet on them

  • Comment number 66.

    @60
    Reflecting on those odds, I guess it can be justified on rankings that England be installed favs to win the group, but those odds are way too short..

    Once again the odds compilers taking advantage of the fact that blind faith in Englands chances will lead to their satchels bulging at the seams, as punters race to place on their England bets.

    Realistically, England should be around 9/4 to win the group. But then thats only my opinion.

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    @64
    When only one team can win a contest out of 16 or 32; surely betting on who won't win is the easy option.

  • Comment number 69.

    Liverpaul, yes those are the general odds. I got them from 'oddscheker' but I guess I can't mention that, so this will probally be removed by the mods. :)

  • Comment number 70.

    55. At 22:35 2nd Dec 2011, Paul_Mersons_Blue_Pen wrote:

    What exactly do you mean by 'England Z?'
    I'm looking forward to reading this.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well, the Republic of Ireland manager's first job is always to go to a genealogy website and search to see whether any Championship plodder's great-great-great-great-grandmother's cousin's sister-in-law was born in Ireland.

    This time-honoured process has led to the Republic of Ireland national team being nothing more than an England ''Z'' team, full of pub-standard Englishmen who even Capello would baulk at picking.

    For example: Walters, St. Ledger, Cox, Best, etc.

    If the Republic of Ireland actually picked a team of born and bred Irishman, then they would be somewhere in between Luxembourg and San Marino in the European pecking order.

  • Comment number 71.

    @70.At 22:50 2nd Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote

    Just a bit of advice mate, never say this in real life to an Irishman.

  • Comment number 72.

    67. At 22:48 2nd Dec 2011, Race for your life wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks for reminding me of another point which really made my blood boil: The underhand tactics of the FA in scheduling a 5.15pm kick-off, knowing full well that the Spanish wouldn't be 100% after their siestas. :angry:

  • Comment number 73.

    No game is a easy game at this stage of a major tournament. So long as when we get knocked out fairly we'll get as far as we deserve to get.

  • Comment number 74.

    53. At 22:33 2nd Dec 2011, The_Soul_Patch_Of_David_Silva wrote:

    Here's a question for you Soul Patch. Who is the better team? Germany or Holland?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the moment I'd say it's Germany, especially as they possess one of the best creative midfielders in the world, mesmeric Mesut Özil.

    I wouldn't put too much credence into Germany's 3-0 victory over the Netherlands in one a recent meaningless kickabout.

    The Netherlands have been a little off-colour lately, but England in February provides the perfect canvas for the Dutch Masters to create another masterpiece.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I agree. The Germany team just now has a good blend of youth and experience. I think the next world cup will be between them and Spain's to win. The Holland team just now is decent but I can't see them competing with a German team that will be stronger in the future. Özil may well become one of the greats.

  • Comment number 75.

    71. At 22:54 2nd Dec 2011, Squall4a wrote:

    Just a bit of advice mate, never say this in real life to an Irishman.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What are you trying to insinuate? That Irish people are violent yobbos who would rather use a primal reaction than explain any disagreement in a civilised and well thought out manner?

    You should be ashamed of yourself using such xenophobic stereotypes.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 69

    all good at the moment.....post is still there!!

    I rarely check the odds on tournaments because they are normally completely far fetched! Next you will be telling me that England have been installed as favourites to win the whole thing and that Germany are going out in the group stage!

  • Comment number 77.

    Soul_patch. I have been reading your predictions on various topics with interest recently,and so many haven't come true (just as you Euro 2012 ones wont). England wont win it,but they certainly wont lose all 3 of the games!. No wonder you face so much criticism on here by people who are realistic about football matters.Whilst you raise a few interesting things,your terrible at predicting things,and i truly believe that you don't actually believe that the English league is as bad as you say it is and also that England are as bad as you say they are.So why do it?, to annoy people?, boredom?, i don't know.Anyways im not going to indulge in an hour long argument like you do with the rest of them,just thought id tell you the truth.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 72

    I think you'll find that the TV companies have more to do with the time scheduling than the FA. Also, the police have a big say on what time matches are played. The Fa generally have to bow down to their decision.

    also, the spanish would have had to have agreed to that time so its their own fault!

  • Comment number 79.

    70. At 22:50 2nd Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    Well, the Republic of Ireland manager's first job is always to go to a genealogy website and search to see whether any Championship plodder's great-great-great-great-grandmother's cousin's sister-in-law was born in Ireland.

    This time-honoured process has led to the Republic of Ireland national team being nothing more than an England ''Z'' team, full of pub-standard Englishmen who even Capello would baulk at picking.

    For example: Walters, St. Ledger, Cox, Best, etc.

    If the Republic of Ireland actually picked a team of born and bred Irishman, then they would be somewhere in between Luxembourg and San Marino in the European pecking order.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Whao.
    There's ignorance, and then there's what you've written. You fail to point out that all of Ireland's best players are Ireland born and raised, such as Keane, Doyle, Dunne, Given, Whelan, Long and the 2 Hunt brothers.
    Your lame exaggerations don't back up your argument. All the Republic players fall into a legitimate criterium that allows them to play, and FIFA wouldn't allow it if it wasn't a reasonable link with Ireland.

  • Comment number 80.

    They won't win the Euros. They won't even qualify from the group stages. They are not good enough and should just go and enjoy the competition and see what happens. England are always ridiculously over-rated when it comes to football. The press, the bookies, the fans always think England are going to win. Then they see the pub team they overhyped and make excuses like for example: it was the refs fault, Fifa's fault, the pitch, the training ground, the temperature, the amount of air in the ball and the list goes on.

  • Comment number 81.

    Thanks for reminding me of another point which really made my blood boil: The underhand tactics of the FA in scheduling a 5.15pm kick-off, knowing full well that the Spanish wouldn't be 100% after their siestas. :angry:

    Siesta? On a Mild November day in England. Well KO could of been 15:00, the traditional time. Or the FA could of copied the domestic leagues and played at 12:45 (it was on TV). It just goes to show how lazy the Spainish nation really are. A bit of heat and everything close down. Go to Africa, Middle East etc where heat is an understatement. They don't shut down for a few hours because of it!

    You should learn elsewhere that other people have different customs.

    Yet the Spainish are too lazy to do anything before 20:00!

  • Comment number 82.

    77. At 22:59 2nd Dec 2011, rufc_dean wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    My one prediction which was slightly off recently was the England-Sweden friendly match, but, other than that, my expert picks are usually near the mark.

    I do not intend to antagonise people, I merely offer my impartial and objective views on the beautiful game. But sometimes these views don't appear to go down too well with those ensnared by the tentacles of the Sky Sports octopus!

  • Comment number 83.

    @76
    In response to this post, I quickly checked the outright odds.

    Can you adam and eve it, although with most oddscompilers England are 4th favourites at 8/1 behind Spain, Germany and Holland, some bookmakers actually go one step further in taking the biscuit, by having England at 3rd favourites at 7/1.

    Although I will be going hoarse cheering on England as usual, realistically I know it's going to need a lot of luck to win it. Not without hope minor hope though!

  • Comment number 84.

    72. At 22:55 2nd Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    Thanks for reminding me of another point which really made my blood boil: The underhand tactics of the FA in scheduling a 5.15pm kick-off, knowing full well that the Spanish wouldn't be 100% after their siestas. :angry:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Don't get so wound up over, as you would call it, a 'meaningless friendly.'

  • Comment number 85.

    France are going to pound us 3-0 I reckon. Although I think their fortunes in this tournament will depend on what 23 players Blanc will pick.

    As for Ukraine, home crowd yes but their record in Donetsk is fairly poor.

  • Comment number 86.

    79. At 23:01 2nd Dec 2011, Paul_Mersons_Blue_Pen wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I've just mentioned some of the English born players, I haven't even got to the Scottish and Northern Irish ones turning out for the Republic of Ireland.

  • Comment number 87.

    40 EarlsfieldOwl wrote:

    WRONG World Cup 2002 When we beat Argentina 1-0. Also France (1982 3-1), Holland (who were favourites in 1996) 4-1.

    I know its not great so you would think you would remember considering how few and far between these victories have been achieved


    Question: When did England last beat a top ranked team in open play in a Major Tourney?
    Answers on a Postage Stamp please. (Clue, it was back in 1966..and before people say Germany in Euro 2000 - they were not a top ranked side!)

  • Comment number 88.

    74. At 22:56 2nd Dec 2011, The_Soul_Patch_Of_David_Silva wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Özil has been absolutely sensational this season. I hope he doesn't get too burnt out before Euro 2012, what with playing in the Champions League final only 2 and a half weeks before the start of the tournament!

  • Comment number 89.

    I do not intend to antagonise people, I merely offer my impartial and objective views on the beautiful game. But sometimes these views don't appear to go down too well with those ensnared by the tentacles of the Sky Sports octopus!

    ---------------------------------

    HAHA!

    Love the fact you keep calling yourself an expert too

    Brilliant

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 85

    surely everyone's fortunes in the tournament will depend on the 23 players picked????

    If spain left out iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Villa, Pique, Puyol, Casillas, etc. then they wouldn't even get out of the group such is the poor standard in the rest of La Liga. ;-)

    France won't beat us 3-0. they may beat us but it won't be as emphatic as that. They are a team in transition and although they have some fantastic players they are by no means the finished article.

  • Comment number 91.

    Ok soul so if I’m wrong try it see what reaction you'd get,

    I meant you'd offend them by the way.

    It seems your own preconceptions came in there really!

  • Comment number 92.

    I somehow doubt England finishing top of their group relies on them; it crucially depends on the nature of the French displays. If France arrive in spectacular style, they will deliver emphatic and imperious displays and comfortably close top of the group.
    Simply due to their overwhelming gulf in technical superiority compared to England's rusty and awkward technical players. However if France do not turn up, and England provide clinical and efficient performances then they can progress as group winners, but that for me is where it all ends.

    Because if we face Spain or Italy depending on where we and they finish, we will go out, because we lack the killer composure, intelligence and unwavering industry to overcome international heavyweight nations. Italy may be an aging nation in need of a reycling programme, but they still have the raw class to beat us unless we set up serious defensive tactics. Spain's a lost cause, they will be in a frenzy against us to correct the footballing injustice at Wembley where Beast took down Beauty.

    I would seriously enjoy watching Republic of Ireland, I've always been surprised they've failed to qualify during the last few international tournaments given their impressive talents and industry, but their track record in crucial games and then away fixtures illustrates their downfall: they've repaired it, and what are they treated to? A tasty reminder from Spain and Italy of how it feels to be mixing it in with the old masters of the game.

    We all may as well pack our bags and cry for England now. This is me, the eternal optimist, speaking. We'll do well in the group-stages, but we'd need a serious slice of fortune against Italy or Spain.

  • Comment number 93.

    So who thinks we should take Rooney? A better win precentage without him, more chance of 11 on the field at the end, can't play half the games anyhow.

    Build a team without him and see how we do.

  • Comment number 94.

    91. At 23:12 2nd Dec 2011, Squall4a wrote:
    Ok soul so if I’m wrong try it see what reaction you'd get,

    I meant you'd offend them by the way.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    But if you meant that I'd offend them, then why would I need to say it their face?

    Surely it would offend them the same if they see it written on an internet blog, if that was what you really meant?

  • Comment number 95.

    I see Germany as joint-favourites alongside Spain, simply because people will have forged park-the-bus tactics against the Spanish, Germany will play with more fluidity and due to their tactical and style versatility, it's difficult to combat them.

  • Comment number 96.

    I appreciate that,im not a huge fan of Murdoch in general,since hes took away my right to watch football and f1 at home on the bbc.Your England v Spain prediction was well off too.Just accept they arent that bad.Yeah they're no Spain or Holland but we are Neanderthals.Anyways bed time for me,some of us sleep.

  • Comment number 97.

    The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa Hah! You say the EPL is predictable but how about the BarcaorReal Liga?

    Sorry to say but I think Italy will win your group. It will be a France v Spain QF. I think Germany and Holland has more chance to win the Euros than Spain

    Personally I know I am English but come on Germany. Now that is the country we should emulate not Spain

    What about England? If we get to the Quarters it be a miracle and Cameron should declare a national holiday. Anything better would be too far fetched to be believed.

    I feel sorry for Ireland any chance to escape from that group is not worth contemplating. If on the other hand they got England instead of Italy they would certainly had fancy their chances

  • Comment number 98.

    86. At 23:09 2nd Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    I've just mentioned some of the English born players, I haven't even got to the Scottish and Northern Irish ones turning out for the Republic of Ireland.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the end of the day, this is a rather petty matter.
    One thing that can be guaranteed, though, is that Trap's Army will give their all, every single one of those players will play their heart out, revelling in the fact that we have got this far on merit. Say what you want, but every single Irishman is proud of our boys for making it, and the whole nation will be behind them.
    Nobody's expecting us to win it, few are expecting us to qualify out of the group, but if you want to see 3 passionate displays next June, I suggest you pay close attention to the Irish lads' passion and commitment. We'd be one of the favourites if the tournament was decided on enthusiasm and fanbase!

  • Comment number 99.

    The modern game demands a lot of pace in a team, and I just don't see much pace if we use the likes of Lampard and co. If Capello gives the youngsters more game time to gel into the team and find their own playing style then I feel we have more chance of getting through this group quicker and easier rather than just doing what he did last year, and stick to the norm. Luckily, I think Capello has learnt from his mistakes. France however would normally be the favourites to win the group however they are a team in transition, and Blanc has still to perfect his starting 11. I expect them to progress however, and with relative ease if they avoid any of the internal conflicts that they had last year.

  • Comment number 100.

    England v France brings back fond memories of Euro 2004.

    I remember when Zidane nailed that free-kick, leaping from my chair, punching the air furiously!

    I had barely composed myself after that ecstatic moment, when that mediocre plodder, Steven Gerrard, played one of the most ill-judged, abysmal back-passes that you're ever likely to see, giving David James no choice but to bring down Henry in the area.

    I was already back on my feet at this time, as Zizou calmly slotted the winning penalty with aplomb, prompting me to furiously punch the air for a good 2 to 3 minutes non-stop!

    I can feel myself welling up now, just as I recall those beautiful moments.

 

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