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Upbeat Hodgson can guide England deep into Euros

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Phil McNulty | 21:56 UK time, Monday, 18 June 2012

Euro 2012: Donetsk

Roy Hodgson stopped short of asking the nation to dare to dream of winning Euro 2012 - but there is no doubt England's manager is warming to his task and alive to subtle increases in expectation.

Hodgson may have raised an eyebrow, even two, when the chairman of the Football Association's international committee, Sir Dave Richards, suggested the 64-year-old had "a Midas touch".

Richards may have been guilty of going too early on the back of a draw with France and a victory over Sweden that was not without its difficulties.

But it is easy to detect a significant switch in mood around England's squad and Hodgson is clearly hopeful of transforming a position of promise into a place in Euro 2012's last eight by securing at least a point against co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk's Donbass Arena.

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It will be no easy task against the co-hosts, who need victory to sustain their own hopes of progression and will be backed by fervent and colourful support in the biggest match in Ukraine's history.

As Hodgson removed his England tracksuit to combat more fierce temperatures in Donetsk - conditions should be near perfect for the 9.45pm local time kick-off on Tuesday - he was hardly feeling any of the heat normally associated with the position he now holds in succession to Fabio Capello.

Of course all this could change in the space of one result but Hodgson's current comfort with his role was emphasised when he used a word not regularly associated with England's manager. Enjoyment.

While England's players had an alarming 20-minute wobble when they went 2-1 down before coming from behind to beat Sweden, Hodgson earned top marks for getting the big calls right. Andy Carroll's selection was rewarded with a goal while the introduction of substitute Theo Walcott helped change a potentially damaging defeat into a vital victory.

If a striker gains confidence from scoring a crucial goal or a goalkeeper from making a vital save, then Hodgson should be in buoyant mood after two managerial decisions proved significantly successful.

Hodgson, when asked if he was on a roll, replied: "I suppose I feel on a roll because I've found it such an enjoyable job to do. To work with this group of players has been a privilege. I knew it was going to be a privilege because when you're given the job of England manager you can't deny the privilege aspect.

"I've also enjoyed the professional way they have gone about their business. When you take on a national team you perhaps take on more egos that you do in a club team, but that hasn't been a factor at all so I suppose in that respect I'm feeling good about the job.

"I'm feeling good about the way the players have played but I am also more than aware that there are going to be plenty of hurdles in front of us, not lease the ones against Ukraine, and I'm aware that defeats do occur in football and sometimes when you least want them."

Hodgson is not uneasy with the slight ratcheting up of aspirations about England - but he admits to a preference to doing his work in the shadows and away from a burden of expectation.

He said: "It's nicer to work in a position where no-one expects too much from you, no-one is asking a lot from you, and you maybe have the confidence to think 'I can prove these people wrong' and 'I can show you that I do know what I'm doing'.

"Once people are giving you praise, you get concerned because then you get worried that you're going to let them down."

Hodgson did add though: "We have come here with the England national team. We believe in ourselves and we want to do well. In some ways it's rather nice that people back home are hoping and even believing we can do well and we're giving them something to dream about and cling to."

The new, inclusive atmosphere away from the more austere regime favoured by Capello can be noticed in the way Hodgson often brings captain Steven Gerrard in on his answers, asking the 32-year-old's opinion.

And while it is no love-in or mutual appreciation society, there is no doubt that - irrespective of what happens in the Donbass Arena on Tuesday - a body of evidence is mounting that England's players are buying into Hodgson's methods.

There were also words of warning from Hodgson as he reminded everyone that he is a football manager, not King Midas, and knows the small wave of optimism around England could yet come crashing down amid the heat and hostility of Donetsk on Tuesday.

"We would all be disappointed if the game didn't go our way and we had to take the plane home," said Hodgson. "There would be an enormous amount of disappointment and dissatisfaction. We believe we have done enough to go on, but Holland thought they could and Russia thought they could.

"It is naive to believe that just because you are able to do it and want to do it that it will be enough."

It will be the biggest test of Hodgson's tenure so far, but when an England manager admits he is enjoying the job it reflects the current climate in the camp, and that has to be a good omen.

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    good luck roy and the boys

  • Comment number 2.

    If Shevchenko is unable to play then that will be good news for England. I expect Ukraine will start the match with a lot of energy so we may need to be patient but I think England will have enough to win and progress from the group.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm sorry but I don't buy into this "optimism" floating around. A scrappy and unambitious display against an average Sweden side, rescued by three moments of individual brilliances, and an extremely negative approach against France..four points and four goals and barely anything inspiringly inventive...and suddenly we're meant to be praising Hodgson? He has done nothing amazing or spectacular, it's been an average start and it won't be enough when Spain come knocking fervently on the door.

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    Aziz, three moments of brilliance is a lot!

  • Comment number 6.

    Got away with it today Tyler - what were your 'expert predictions' for the game - probably 3/4 nil? How I would have loved your disappearance if Croatia had snatched a late goal.

    Predictions for tomorrow? I predict you will predict a comfortable 6-0 victory with a Shevchenko masterclass in how to play football.

    Still, we are likely to play you now so my expert prediction for that is 23-0 to England. Then you can cry in to your tapas.

  • Comment number 7.

    I hope it's just a good performance tomorrow with a well deserved victory. None of this throwing away a lead and having to luckily peg it back. Why can't England see out a game 1/2-0.

  • Comment number 8.

    Here we go, qualify for the quarter finals and call it a good result. After we get destroyed by Italy or Spain the media will be up to their old tricks calling for blood.

    That being said, this is shaping up to be the maddest tournament ever. Greece are channelling 2004, Itally 2006, Spain 2008-10. Perhaps we can channel the spirit of 66. When its 11 vs 11 anything is possible.

  • Comment number 9.

    #5 Three moments of individual brilliance isn't down to Hodgson being a wise manager, it's simply player skill. He hasn't utilised Gerrard at all and we've been so unambitious and fortunate at times. We play like that against Spain and we'll be murdered

    He's only won one game with some boring football and we shower him with praise?

    #4 maybe I will support them because unlike England other teams show some courage and attack. You win tournaments with positive football, Greece aside.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm a Scot, just getting it out there.. but I think it's a bit unreasonable to be levelling any real criticism at the England side (Aziz, this means you) - it's all very well to talk about performances not being thrilling, but take a reality check.. it's not an easy group, and you can expect to beat someone all you want on the basis that you're the better side 'on paper' (see Netherlands v Denmark), but it's winning games that matters (ask Greece, even drawing most of them sometimes works). 3 wins and a draw against Norway, Belgium, France and Sweden is not to be sniffed at and, let's face it, you're simply not going to play the likes of Spain off the park but you might nick a goal with your only chance in a rearguard action. Take a leaf out of Roy's book and enjoy the tournament while you're there, you might just get further than you think

  • Comment number 11.

    If England don't get through this, we don't deserve to be in the competition. Ukraine are an average team with a 35 year old talisman that is probably running on empty after the first two games, mentally and physically, and will struggle to last an hour. They will be playing an English team that, on paper, outclass them in every position, buoyed by their comeback against Sweden. I expect England will have too much for them. Although with England, you never can tell can you? ;)

    I'm still going for an early Welbeck goal and a Rooney header.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not sure if anyone has watched the Spanish team that everyone seems so sure that would knock us out. However against a well organised Italian and Croatian team they really have struggled to break them down. Given the extra quality England have in the likes of Stevie G, Rooney and with Wellbeck taking to international football like a duck to water, don't be suprised if we actually give Spain a real game.

    First things first though in getting the result against Ukraine. Doing well so far lads and good to see some pride in playing for the shirt back. And for those knocking the results so far, we have drawn against a very useful french team and beaten Sweden for the first time in a competitive tournament, what more do you want?

    Come on England!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Go on Phil say you think we are going to win it-you are desperate to say it. You seem loved up over there, first Gerrard, then Rooney now Roy.

    We will see where we are tomorrow at 9.45pm, you could be calling for Roy's head if it all goes wrong. The reason expectations are down is due to the fact we have an uninspiring manager, maybe it will work in our favour. Spain weren't all that but still would you rather be facing Czechs/Greece or Italy/Spain-we have been given a very tough route from here on in should we make it past Ukraine.

    I asked earlier on another blog what would happen if Ukraine win and both ourselves (obviously) and France lose. Is it simply goal-difference to sort out 2nd in the Group and if so what if those are also level??

    PS I think we at least draw tomorrow but I do expect thus usual drama-I thought Ukraine winning the opening game would be a bit of a problem for us as they knew it meant they only had to win 1 of the last 2 to go through.

  • Comment number 14.

    @3 Aziz: stop being so pessimistic. We dominated the Swedes but for a 20-minute spell, and the more you watch their first goal, the luckier it appears. The free kick is blasted into the wall, pinballs off a couple of players, Hart saves, the ball hits Johnson, then Johnson almost clears off the line. The Swedes were lucky to be let back into that match and it could easily have been 3-1 or much worse (Parker, Young and Wellbeck all came close). And we dominated all of the key stats that we failed to against France.

    Are we going to win Euro 2012? Probably not, but luck plays a massive part in these things, and given we have a new manager and a whole list of injured players, we're doing OK. We're 3-1-0 this month, scored 6 (without our key striker), conceded 3. and one was a fluke. It's not all doom and gloom. I'm sure Holland and Croatia would love to be in our position!

  • Comment number 15.

    Good luck England Go for the throat

  • Comment number 16.

    aziz @3

    I'm sorry but I don't buy into this "optimism" floating around.
    it's been an average start and it won't be enough when Spain come knocking fervently on the door.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Obviously you have not been watching England for too long.

    It is not just about what happens on the pitch. The whole England set up really does look different, we are behaving like a professional outfit, for the first time in years.

    Roy actually looks as though he is enjoying it, instead of the past lot who looked lost and were probably wondering what time the next flight home was. The players are not acting like the usual mindless idiots treating it as a jaunt and NO WAGS.

    As for on the pitch, I don't think we have looked like losing or deserving to lose a game. It's more like an experimental team in terms of players and the tactics have been near enough right, especially the French game.

    If we lost tomorrow night, then at least some good will have come from it. Instead of the usual bull and finger pointing that always happens after recent England tournament defeats.

    Yes I'd say there have been far more plus marks than negatives for England.

  • Comment number 17.

    Roy was made Liverpool manager on 1st July 2010 (needless to say it didn't work out very well.

    The final of Euro2012 is on July 1st, could the universe be working in mysterious ways to deliver redemption for "uncle Roy" ?

    just saying is all.

  • Comment number 18.

    I like the sound of that, "Dare to dream." All the best Woy Wodgeson & The Three Lions. Personally, I wasn't expecting much, but I have been impressed. Having said that, my support was never in doubt or in question, but I will dare to dream after Ukraine has crashed out.
    On another note, @3-aziz you sound like a hard nut to please. This optimism thats floating around has been gained by 4 points & 4 goals. The 3 moments of individual brilliance are what make soccer interesting. Greece won this in 2004 & the cup doesn't care how they won it yet their name is on it. Greece could not even score 3 goals is one game. England hasn't been tearing defences or set the stage alight, but they have been equal to the task. With Rooney back it is right that I dare to dream. Any team that has ever won something, will tell you of moments of brilliance. For a football fan you are quite shallow & your attitude stinks more than the ego clashes within the Dutch camp.

  • Comment number 19.

    I really don't see the logic in some of these comments. Spain play positive football? 800 sideways passes, a bunch of diving, no strikers on the pitch, and a usually a 1-0 win.

    Also comments from people predicting Spain or Italy will "destroy" us? Have you seen Italy's record this year? They failed to score in their three games before the tournament. They were thrashed 3-0 by Russia. They lost to the USA. They even managed to draw with New Zealand and lose to Slovakia at the last world cup. And we're meant to be scared of them? Respect, sure, but there's no way I fear these guys.

    Even if we do lose, I'd be surprised if there was more than one goal in it. It's more likely that we draw, lose on penalties, and then all the haters come crawling back out of the woodwork and tell us how we were "outclassed" by a "technically superior side"... even though it was a draw after 120 minutes.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hey, as a Paddy, disappointed because we were just not good enough, I say c'mon England, give it a lash. Be positive, play to your strengths and who knows what might happen.

  • Comment number 21.

    Breaking news just in. Exclusive expert picks from The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa for the matches tomorrow.

    France v Sweden
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The fabulous French front three (containing Real Madrid star, Karim Benzema) will flummox the faltering Swedes. Former Barcelona superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović will provide some consolation for the spirited Scandinavians. Expert pick: France 4 Sweden 1. Player to watch: Karim Benzema (France).

    England v Ukraine
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The pub standard plodders of group D will receive a footballing lesson from the utilitarian Ukrainians. The sizzling and savvy Andriy Shevchenko will lead his united troops to a valiant victory over England and usurp their place to progress to the knockout stage. Expert pick: England 0 Ukraine 3. Player to watch: Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine).
    ______________________________________________________

    Used lots of big words, not quite sure what they mean – check.

    Mentioned at least one Spanish club side – check.

    References to pub standard and plodders – check.

    You saw it here first (probably).

  • Comment number 22.

    aziz @9
    We play like that against Spain and we'll be murdered
    He's only won one game with some boring football and we shower him with praise?
    #4 maybe I will support them because unlike England other teams show some courage and attack. You win tournaments with positive football, Greece aside.
    __________________________________________________________________

    Now i know you do not watch football.

    You could hardly call Spain a courageous attacking team, there as cautious as you can get. They also played with fear tonight.

    I suppose you think the Croatia/Spain game will go down in history as one of the greatest games, when it was dire.

    If you don't want to support England then don't.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm sorry but no, England won't win the Euros. They lack the talent of Soain and Germany and while it has been great to see a harmonious England I don't think they have the quality to win the tournament.

    Also I really wish people would stop putting expectations on Rooney's shoulders. He flourishes at United as he does not have to deal with such pressure. Similar to Ronaldo and his Portugal pressure.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 21: BaggiosPonytail: very good. But you missed:

    1. repeated use of the term "schoolboy howler"
    2. misue of the word "literally" (he was literally miles offside)
    3. adding a :roles eyes: or :strokes chin:

  • Comment number 25.

    I almost want to England to finish second in their group, just so as they can be taught a footballing lesson by the sizzlingly sensational Spanish side.

    Can you imagine the likes of Johnson, Cole, Lescott, Terry, Parker and Gerrard against Cesc, Silva, Navas, Torres, Iniesta, Xavi, et al.?

    As much as I love Spain, I'm also an empath, and I might not even watch that game, as it would be painful viewing; 5-1 or 6-1 would be the FT score.

  • Comment number 26.

    * ROLLS eyes

    Now I've left myself wide open for

    4. makes a big deal out of spelling mistakes and typos in order to compensate for losing an argument

  • Comment number 27.

    Ever since my brother woke me up during England's 3-0 win over Poland in Mexico '86, I have been gripped ever since every time I have seen them play, I think I've only missed a handful of matches since.

    I cannot abide Ill thought out comments by people who have no understanding of the game as a whole, and are far too ready to jump on the negative bus.
    I don't have any predictions, one thing you should never do is try to predict, just get behind your team instead of throwing half-baked idea's around.
    Two games in and 4 points, not bad considering before a ball was kicked and before Hodgson had been able to put his stationary on his desk, It was all doom and gloom.
    Do we actually love this game or do we just like being negative.
    A good performance is nothing without the results to carry you forward. So far so good then...Win lose or draw tomorrow, I feel a bit of pride has returned in those wearing the shirt.
    It'll be nerve racking, tense and anxious, I will predict that! I'd rather that than 1-0 and then trying to keep a lead knocking the ball sideways and backwards for 60 minutes!
    Come on people lets get behind the boys!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    well i,m here :)

  • Comment number 29.

    @ Soul Patch: you must be a millionaire, right? Because I assume that you take all of your predictions down to the bookies? Or do you just save your ridiculous predictions for those lucky enough to surf the BBC sports messageboards?

    If you think it would be 5-1 or 6-1, go whack a hundred quid on it. See how that works out for you.

    Probably as well as it did when you predicted Spain would thrash England in the friendly a few months back.

    Can I imagine Terry, Lescott, etc against Torres? Actually, yes. English defenders have been keeping him quiet all year.

  • Comment number 30.

    The soccer ball is round. One thing I have learnt this season is that you can thread a 1000 passes & have 70% ball possession, but thats only half the story. The scoreboard tells the real story because soccer is a results business not a territory, possession or passing business. All these little intricate things just add a little something to the whole story. Chelsea was dominated by both Barca & Bayern, but which name is on the cup??? Greece got dominated plenty times in 2004, but who lifted the cup???
    England have been decent & deserve a thumbs up for that. I sure hope they can avoid Spain & set a date with Italy. Would love to see the Italians suffer at the hands of the Three Lions.
    Against Sweeden, When Theo came on, some say it was luck, others say it was fate, I say it was the perfect time, perfect substitution & its all credit to both Woy & Theo. Sir Alex had the same when Macheda came on for someone & Man Utd won the game. It happened when Owen scored the 4th goal against Man City in Fergie time. Fergie has been called a tactical genious due to these moments. Woy had his & we should tip our hats in honour of such a change that brought The Swedes to their knees.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well said #27

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    29. At 00:09 19th Jun 2012, Dizzee69 wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    I've already explained that I don't bet on correct scores.

    My expert picks are purely for educational purposes. However, if - hypothetically - England did draw Spain in the quarters, then I would lump my life savings on Spain progressing past the Three Pussycats, if the odds were anything above 1.01 (1/100) for them to do so.

  • Comment number 34.

    Just to say @ 21 quality post. As for the games my predictions : France 2 Sweden 1
    England 2 Ukraine 1 . As for 32 , hmm middle-england, muslim-hating, daily mail-reading norm ..are you a social commentator or a stand in for paul the psychic octopus?

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote: An awfully egregious retort, akin to a youth after his first alcoholic beverage, with spelling and grammar to match.

  • Comment number 37.

    The_Soul_Patch_of_David_Villa, what kind of nonsense??? Spain hasn't even won by such a magine in any of their games during tournaments.
    2ndly, Spain will win the ball possession argument, but the scoreboard could tell a different story. Chelsea stunned your beloved Barca who were scoring for fun till they met The English.
    For all those who are saing England lack quality, you are wrong. What is quality anyway. England may not have technically gifted players or players with silky sublime skills, but they are united, disciplined, courageous & confident. Those qualities are enough to make any team win any cup. Greece did it. Chelsea did it. England can do it too. Spain laboured for their win tonight & the way they played really didn't scare their opponents off the pitch. I am pretty sure France can & will expose Spain as they have always done in prior tournaments.
    I really hope England finish 1st so France can do what they do best, humbling the arrogant Spaniards. Moo...hahahahahaha...

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    Although Hodgson has done a good job so far it's worth remembering he's also only gained results that have been expected, tough ones, but expected ones. People talking about a 'midas touch' after a draw against France and a win against Sweden is premature beyond belief and once again we're in danger of building up our hopes and putting more pressure on the team. Realistically we'll finish second in our group setting up a game against Spain which whilst I'm sure we'll have a good go at we will most likely lose. There's no shame at all in that but lets not build this team up to be something it's not again.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 13 sirHellsBells

    "What would happen if Ukraine win and both ourselves (obviously) and France lose?"

    If both England and France lose the team which has the superior goal difference will progress. If that is the same whoever has the higher number of goals scored in all group matches will progress. If the teams can still not be separated then I believe it is determined by position in UEFA national team coefficient ranking system where England are higher than France.

  • Comment number 41.

    my predictions

    France 2 Sweden 0 ( the latter have naff all to play for )

    Ukraine 2 England 0 ( cue all the poms manking and moaning they were robbed by

    the ref, if not him it will be the hot dog seller who cost them.

  • Comment number 42.

    37. At 00:27 19th Jun 2012, TonySylver wrote:

    The_Soul_Patch_of_David_Villa, what kind of nonsense??? Spain hasn't even won by such a magine in any of their games during tournaments.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Is that your real name, or is your username a direct homage to the ex-Senegal keeper?

    Either way, Spain has showed everyone that they play when they want; when a suitably testing opponent comes about, then they may leave second-gear. Until then, they'll just win games at 50%.

    Need I remind you of our record in the last 6 years of competitive action?

    Played 43 Won 39 Drawn 3 Lost 1

    World and European champions.

  • Comment number 43.

    aziz - so sad
    soul patch - even sadder

    olapsdaddi - nice one

    Truth is, we haven't set the tournament alight, but then nobody has really, except the germans.

    We have done ok though, and certainly better than the dutch - who would have predicted that before the tournament started! And I think we have a very good chance of avoiding defeat against ukraine, which is all we need.

    Having watched most of the games so far, I don't think england need fear italy or spain. It would be tight whoever we get (if we get there).

    @13
    We just have to do better than france. If they lose we need to lose by 1 less goal than them. If they draw we need to win. If they win, we need to win by 1 more goal. Except, if we win 2-0 and they win 4-3 they would go through on goals scored.
    I think!!

    Come on England!!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    " I generally refer to them as the ''Three Pussycats''. Lions implies pride, grace and dominance (attributes which Ingerlund don't possess). "

    Bang On !

  • Comment number 45.

    "I almost want to England to finish second in their group, just so as they can be taught a footballing lesson by the sizzlingly sensational Spanish side.

    Can you imagine the likes of Johnson, Cole, Lescott, Terry, Parker and Gerrard against Cesc, Silva, Navas, Torres, Iniesta, Xavi, et al.?"

    ************************************

    Rather than imagining, why not stick to the facts - Iniesta and Xavi didn't put too many goals past Terry and Cole in the Champions League SF, even with Messi on their side.

    Spain (like Barcelona) are a great side, and fully deserved WC 2010, but they have limitations. If you defend deep and narrow, they don't present much threat from crosses. That's what Italy did, and Spain created one opening for Fabregas, but little else.

    Seems to me that Germany are the best side at the moment - they have far more attacking options - and an easy draw.

  • Comment number 46.

    win lose or draw i'll be supporting roy, i think its quite clear hes the right man for the job, every interview he does is a joy to listen to, and its credit to the fa for not letting the media run our team.
    he has not put a foot wrong so far and has had to take a lot of steps yet some of you so called england fans still aint happy.
    feel free to support another country, we dont need you, you sound like spoiled brats to be honest or just wums.

    the true fans will start getting a hot face from about 6pm from the stress, the passionate ones will skip dinner from feeling sick with nerves, if one of them doesnt happen to you tomorrow then your simply not english.

  • Comment number 47.

    I would like to see how Soul Patches expert picks for qualification are doing. Probably very badly. Sweden for nil poi.

    Very suprised at how Spain played today, was expecting an easy win. If we played them in the quarters, and they played like that, I think we would beat them.

  • Comment number 48.

    soul patch

    a serious point if your attention can be diverted from the usual commentary.

    You fancy Spain to overcome England in the quarters.

    We have to assume that england will qualify but if they do and they go on to meet Spain. England are 7/5 to be eliminated at the quarter final stage. That makes Spain odds against 7/5 to overcome England in 90 or 120 mins or on penalties.

    It was 11/5 immediately after the Spain game but their has been a flood of money on England going out in the quarters, with good reason.

    The other point is would Italy be 7/5 outright, if they played England, of course not, they would be shorter.

  • Comment number 49.

    and just think all these permatations ( which do my head in ) could be very much simplified by

    you only get points for the goals you score including bonus points for putting the ball in the back of the net twice at least.

  • Comment number 50.

    @45 Good post - Remind me how many goals barca's tippy tappy (its new official name btw ;-) produced against chelsea in the CL SF. As a chelsea fan I forgot in all the excitement of winning the cup!!

    lol

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    @49
    so spain scored 6 goals in 3 matches (including 4 against the worst side in the competition by miles, which was the only time they scored more than 1).
    England have scored 4 from 2 games (same ratio), scoring more than one goal in one match.

    What's your point?!?!?

    As usual you don't have one, at least not a valid one

  • Comment number 53.

    When I watched the Sweeden game and we went 2-1 down my thoughts were very much "Oh no, here we go again!" I have to say though that it turned out to prove the difference from past tournaments to see the believe and reslove of the team to keep on going and fight.
    We must concentrate on eliminating that "slack" period and play with the same determination for every game we still survive in this tournament. Play for the win against Ukraine. From here on in it is knockout football and anything is possible over 90 minutes but we must play for the full 90. England are becoming a "star team" as oppossed to a "team of stars"!
    Most impressive team for me so far has to Germany.
    Keep on going boys and maintain a self-belief and pride. GO ENGLAND.

  • Comment number 54.

    48. At 00:41 19th Jun 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    We have to assume that england will qualify but if they do and they go on to meet Spain. England are 7/5 to be eliminated at the quarter final stage. That makes Spain odds against 7/5 to overcome England in 90 or 120 mins or on penalties.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not at all. England could beat Ukraine, and France could lose or draw against Sweden. Or, England could beat the Ukraine by 1 more goal than France beats Sweden (barring a high-scoring game in Kiev) and still top the group.

    The odds-against price is because England can still realistically get an easy quarter-final against the Italians.

  • Comment number 55.

    @48

    stop complicating matters :)

    and why have you not won the lottery ?

  • Comment number 56.

    TonySylver is my real name @The_Soul_Patch_of_David_Villa. I have no ties with Senegal.
    Impressive record, which like all records is about to come to an end. I am sure Barca had a good record too till they were reunited with an old foe in the form of Chelsea... Moo... Hahahahaha.....
    Before these 6 years of good fortune, you forgot that it was France that sent you packing in the 2006 World Cup & in the previous tournaments. Zinedine Zidane single handedly gave Spain a beat down. You scored 1st via a penalty & then Zizou showed you how its done. 90 Mins later, at 3-1, you knew who was king. Hehehehe... They have humbled countless times in the same way Barca was humbled by Chelsea... The history between you & France is enough too send you packing. You may not get France, but they are coming for you. My beloved Germany will probably be terrified to play so I can't really bank on them on getting the job done. France to send the Spanish packing... Moooo..... Hahahahahaha.....

  • Comment number 57.

    52. At 00:47 19th Jun 2012, lionheartcfc wrote:

    so spain scored 6 goals in 3 matches (including 4 against the worst side in the competition by miles)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    When did Spain play against England in this tournament? :strokeschinthoughtfully:

  • Comment number 58.

    I'd just like to clear something up. The coming back from 2-1 down against Sweden had nothing to do with Roy Hodgson's tactical brilliance or even Theo Walcott. It was becaused i decided to change my shirt straight after Mellberg scored the 2nd goal. i am 100% sure that is what changed the game. I will be wearing the new lucky shirt tomorrow so i am hoping we can get some sort of result.

    I don't think we can win the tournament but i am adopting a 'enjoy it while it lasts' policy. We are unbeaten so far and i woke up in the best mood last saturday morning. The like of which i have not felt since 2002 when we beat Argentina 1-0.

    Roy Hodgson may not be everything the media want to hype him up to be at the minute but he is a good coach, highly intellectual and a thoroughly decent bloke. And our team seem to play with a sense of belief under him as evidenced by the win against Sweden. So even if we go out tomorrow i have one good memory from the tournament and that to me is what supporting England should be about.

    Revel in the victories when we get the chance, because we are not the best in Europe and i think finally most of us are beginning to understand that. And you know what it doesn't half make the wins seem sweeter when they come. 3 in the last 4 games seem great to me.

    The England fan Mag at the start of the Tournament said we are 'here in hope, not expectation' and i think that should be our mantra going forwards. No-one has a divine right to win anything so just enjoy it while it lasts.

    INGERRRLUND, INGERRLUND, INGERRRLUND!

  • Comment number 59.

    As said before, 2-1 to England. Sadly, Ukraine will be out-lucked by the England's fortunate breaks (such as the mystifying 'Jedi-Force' knock-back of Isaksson with Walcott's goal). Plus, one of the goals will undoubtedly arise from a set-piece, which der England will gratuitously glorify.

    And let's not forget, 2-1 = 25-1.

    France aren't all too convincing from midfield, but they have not conceded from open-play yet and Benzema will be eager to rival R7's display. I want fireworks, but Sweden will remain proudly competitive. So 2-1 for that match too.

  • Comment number 60.

    @52

    my point pussycat is this:

    and is very simple

    if you dont put the ball in the net you get no points !

    should you manage a 1-1 bore fest ( as ingerland and france just about managed )

    you get the obigatory 1 point each for the draw

    the idea being to make it more attractive to the paying public.

    if you think about it, its very much the same as we have now but is there not something wrong with a side winning 4-0 being given the same marks or points as a side that wins by 1-0 ?

  • Comment number 61.

    soul patch

    of course if England qualify it will mean a game against Spain or Italy. Either of those teams will not be 7/5 outright.

    I personally think Englands hardest game will be Italy if they have to face them because it will be an open game and the Italians have the balance to cope with that type of game.

    If they play Spain, England will close up shop and you know as well as i do that is not what Spain want at this time. I say thay because they are definitely not in the same form as their 2 previous tournaments, Villa missing, probably being the reason.

    I also believe despite the usual pricing around England by the firms England will always be shorter than their true price because of the weight of mug money. You will still be able to have a saver on England. A no lose situation.

    Well I say no lose, the Ukraine could wreck the bet, by beating England tonight.

  • Comment number 62.

    @58

    Your 1st sentence is absolutely correct! That is all.

  • Comment number 63.

    56. At 00:56 19th Jun 2012, TonySylver wrote:

    TonySylver is my real name
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    LOL. Fair enough. The Senegalese goalkeeper used to be called ''Tony Sylva'', and I thought you might have named your username after him.

    As for your ancient history? It's just that: ancient history.

    As I've already stated, our competitive record - since September, 2006 - is: played 43 won 39 drawn 3 lost 1.

    That ''loss'', of course, being the opening game in the 2010 World Cup. Switzerland -under one of the top 5 managerial G.O.A.Ts, Ottmar Hitzfeld - offered a ''lifeline'' for all of those who couldn't match the tiki-taka brilliance of the sizzling Spanish.

    What was the reaction, two years ago, after their loss to the Swiss in 2010? ''Spain have been found out'', ''They have no plan B'', ''They are one-dimensional'', ''Switzerland has laid out a blue-print to beat the Spaniards'', etc, etc.

    What do we hear from desperate commentators two years later? :rollseyes:

    The truth is that no-one can match La Furia Roja. Just be grateful that you're there to witness their triumphant march to history.

  • Comment number 64.

    If there is an additional worry factor it has to be England keeping going and the Press trying to hijack the headlines in the manner they 've been doing for years.

    There was no reason for this blog. England are playing in about 20 hours and they should progress. It isn't a great deal and it won't be an Achievement. We all know English football needs to upgrade the way they approach the game.

    Having said that, lowly Greece played 3 matches, they've been murdered by refereeing decisions on 3 matches and still progressed. Having this small nation as Euro winners 8 years ago, it doesn't require Einstein scientists to realise the importance of cohesion, team spirit and togetherness when an international side faces an international competition.

    The good thing is the spirit within the England camp is positive, the team looks unified and they can try their best. Isn't this what we all want? The England players sweating their shirt for the England cause? I don't know how far they'll go but I'd be extremely disappointed if they didn't secure progression tomorrow evening.

  • Comment number 65.

    61. At 01:02 19th Jun 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    of course if England qualify it will mean a game against Spain or Italy. Either of those teams will not be 7/5 outright.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    But England's odds-against price to go out at the quarter-final stage is due to the fact that they could realistically meet Italy in the quarter-finals.

    The real price for the progression of Spain v Engalnd in this tournament would be somewhere in the region of 1.16/1.20 (1/6, 1/5). Even then, the odds would reflect England playing for penalties and praying for a win in a bizarre 50/50 post-football game ''event''.

  • Comment number 66.

    They laid down a 'formula' of how to beat Spain, but of course your team were too complacent again weren't they! Too many missed chances, and your 'back-from-long-siesta' attitude didn't help.

    I never understood by you lot refuse to deploy width in addition to your game, as you have a very potent force in Llorente? Opposition like the Greeks are simply going to station 10 men in their box, passing through them with midfielders cannot be a strategy?

  • Comment number 67.

    @64

    'Having said that, lowly Greece played 3 matches, they've been murdered by refereeing decisions on 3 matches and still progressed. Having this small nation as Euro winners 8 years ago, it doesn't require Einstein scientists to realise the importance of cohesion, team spirit and togetherness when an international side faces an international competition.'

    Fair point, indeed I have some respect for them as the trait of team-spirit and efficiency is very dearly held by us Germans too. But we play the football.

  • Comment number 68.

    #66,

    It's all impressions. What I know is that Spain were tonight one correct refereeing decision away, on a penalty not given to Croatia, from falling on the first hurdle.

  • Comment number 69.

    @58
    With that revelation, I suppose I should confess that it was my fault that we lost to argentina in 86 because I was at my girlfriends house and didn't have a beer (they didn't have any in the house!!) lol

    I will be at home tonight, with beer in hand, so we should be safe.

  • Comment number 70.

    66. At 01:20 19th Jun 2012, Avonns wrote:

    They laid down a 'formula' of how to beat Spain, but of course your team were too complacent again weren't they! Too many missed chances, and your 'back-from-long-siesta' attitude didn't help.

    never understood by you lot refuse to deploy width in addition to your game, as you have a very potent force in Llorente? Opposition like the Greeks are simply going to station 10 men in their box, passing through them with midfielders cannot be a strategy?

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

    Are you talking about Croatia last night, or Switzerland in 2010? :shakesheadinapointedstateofmockconfusion:

    Width was deployed: in case you didn't notice it, Jesus Navas (the ''wide-man'') passed the ball into the net, after the Croatians wilted in despair.

    I'm certainly a big fan of the Bilbao Bulldozer (aka. Fernando Llorente), and I would like to see him starting ahead of that EPL player, Torres.

    However, who are you or I to question the decisions of the Mustachioed Maestro, the Avuncular Assassin, the international managerial G.O.A.T, del Bosque?

  • Comment number 71.

    patches

    Precisely and that is why I believe England to be massively over priced. Either way Italy or Spain will be favs to beat them and fairly short to do it.

    Taking 7/5 outright on Spain or Italy is a steal against an England team. With the knowledge that England will be odds against to cause an upset, therefore no matter who they face England can be backed for the saver or a small profit, no matter the outcome.

    No extra time or penalties to worry about.

    As i say the only drawback is the match with the Ukraine tonight.

  • Comment number 72.

    @The_Soul_Patch_of_David_Villa it may be ancient history, but its worth the mention.
    2ndly its history like that which sets up goodgames.
    Spain are a great side, I however don't enjoy the way they play the beautiful game. During the world cup for example, Germany really entertained me. Beating Argentina 4-1 was the climax for me. They replicated that ruthlessness against England & another team that they thumped 4-0. The passing was not just pushing the ball forward, sideways or backwards. Their passing had intent to tear down their opponents. They did not get fed up of scoring or shooting from long range. They played with pace yet they had a patience about them. Spain on the other hand is pathetic. They want every player to get a touch on the ball & they want to walk the ball into the net. How boring is that? David Villa was not scared of shooting & maybe thats what makes this current Spain a bore. They are talented, but very boring. Tonight's match resembeled that. Passing for fun without creating space or opportunites. Its sickening soccer. The Spain of 2008 used to tear down defences with their passes. I don't know whats wrong with this current Spain. Results back them, but I don't enjoy their brand of soccer. Its dull.

  • Comment number 73.

    68. At 01:25 19th Jun 2012, Mind the gap wrote:

    It's all impressions. What I know is that Spain were tonight one correct refereeing decision away, on a penalty not given to Croatia, from falling on the first hurdle.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Eh? What?

    If you're talking about Mandžukić correctly being told to get up by the referee, after a firm - but fair - challenge from Sergio Ramos, then I think that you should probably concentrate on a more sedate sport - like lawn bowls - instead; football is clearly not for you.

    However, just for the sake of argument, let's imagine a penalty was incorrectly awarded to Croatia in the first-half for that well-timed tackle.

    They would have had about a 70-80% chance of scoring, and, even if they did, that would have left a good 50-60 minutes for Spain to press for an equaliser and , after that, a winner.

    If you understand the causal chain of events, and the fact that every single football team plays to the current scoreline, then you will realise how ludicrous your bizarre claim actually is.

  • Comment number 74.

    no 38, how can anyone get angry about a flag? even victor meldrew could'nt manage that, in any case the flag is a white background with a simple red cross so your description is wrong, get your facts right, muslin hating? there are simply 2 types of people in this world,regardless of sex, size, race importance, power, looks, wealth or anything else, decent ones and ones that best fit starting letters of catch you next tuesday sir, sadly they come in all shapes and colours and it would be easier if they didnt but thats life, england resticted benzema, nasri, malouda and ribery, ( or on itv fronk ribaareee,lo, ) to long range shots, they never broke through on goal or i think had a free kick in any dangerous area, we had the swedes then lost the lead and as said a good substitution and won, we cant go all out at teams or we will be soundly beaten, the fans of our football would never stand for tika taka here it would be jeered as fannying about and told to get stuck in and get it up to who ever, consequently we have the paradox of the most exciting league quite possibly anywhere with lots of action, chances and goals but we do not really learn how to keep possesion or close down games and so suffer internationally where other countries play possesion based patient games, think back to when serie A came on 5, a big thought of oooo now i can see the top italion teams and 2 weeks later, ugh this is slower than cricket and quieter too, this will never change, lets face it who wants to watch it, so get used to us playing how we do and enjoy whatever comes our way , much much better teams skill wise are going home now with very few or no points

  • Comment number 75.

    #67,

    I don't care who wins the tournament. It would be nice the best team to win it. But Germany do not play the football.

    Germany beat narrowly Portugal perhaps because the Portuguese underestimated their team's capabilities - when they needed to equalise, they were a grave threat to the Germany goal. Germany also beat Denmark, narrowly and they beat Netherlands by 1 goal. Do they not live on reputation?

  • Comment number 76.

    England need to do their utmost to try and top the group because they will struggle against Spain, whereas I think they will have a decent chance against Italy. Obviously, the priority is to qualify and that will be aim number one. I think Hodgson should start with Welbeck and Rooney with Walcott on the wing from the start.

    http://jedidiahgore.blogspot.it/2012/06/italy-hoping-for-no-match-fixing-today.html

  • Comment number 77.

    #73,

    I wouldn't normally reply to you. Associate it with my last drink of the night.
    But what I know is that a Spanish defender almost got the shirt of a Croatia player ripped off, while the Croatia player was trying to head the ball home: a clear penalty. Whatever though. Sweet dreams.

  • Comment number 78.

    72. At 01:32 19th Jun 2012, TonySylver wrote:

    The Spain of 2008 used to tear down defences with their passes.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. That would be why we edged out Sweden and Greece 2-1 in the group stages. drew 0-0 against the negative Italians, beat an out-of-place, over-achieving Russian side in the semis, and edged the jittery Germans 1-0.

    What you say is - quite frankly - revisionist nonsense.

    Spain, over the last 6 years, have always had challenges.

    The empire is not crumbling. You are merely witnessing an affirmation of Spain's unprecedented international dominance.

  • Comment number 79.

    77. At 01:40 19th Jun 2012, Mind the gap wrote:

    I wouldn't normally reply to you.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, you would. You wouldn't even have mentioned your bizarre claim if you didn't ardently read my posts.

    If ''you wouldn't normally reply to me'', then why on Earth have you made an exception to your timid outlook?

    Talk about being hoisted by your own petard!

    In any case, I saw Cesc having the short virtually ripped off his back in the second-half. I guess that they're only ''penalties'' when a player from the the team who you jealously hate breathes in his own penalty area. :rollseyes:

  • Comment number 80.

    @Mind the gap, you talk a lot of sense. I would like the best team to win too.
    On another note, Germany hasn't been living on reputation they have got 9 points in the bag. They have played their game & had to be cautious because of the group they were in. They will be guns blazing from here on.
    Germany had missed chances in all their 1st 3 games. During the WC in 2010, they were more clinical & more electrifying & I think thats what you want to see. Well if the missed chances had been converted, it would have been a diffrent story. The Germans are not living on reputation or hype, they are just getting warmed up. Watch a little longer & you will see it.

  • Comment number 81.

    England should beat Ukraine today and finish top in Group D. After the result they got against Sweden, they should now be high in confidence. England are favourites as Ukraine simply need to beat England to reach the quarterfinals whereas England just need at least a draw.

  • Comment number 82.

    Soul Patch, you would be taken more seriously on this blog if you demonstrated at least a basic technical understanding of football. Or, better yet, if you had the brain to respond to all the arguments you get and not just pick out ones you think you can take on and, even then, make an assertion about the English nationality bearing some alleged corollary to poor skill. Always criticising the EPL- the UEFA coefficients seem to disagree... an English team in the final every year but one since 2005 from 4, but only 1 team from La Liga in that time. Get a life you utter troll.

  • Comment number 83.

    75. At 01:38 19th Jun 2012, Mind the gap wrote:

    It would be nice the best team to win it. But Germany do not play the football.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Absolutely.

    The Germans are the most overrated team in international football history.

    If they played Spain, it would be about 4-1 or 4-2 in favour of La Furia Roja.

    The dashing and daring Danes almost knocked out the Germans yesterday.

    Once the likes of Iniesta, Silva and Cesc get a run against the the abject Germany defence, then we're looking at a serious footballing lesson.

  • Comment number 84.

    #80,

    I have watched great German sides win competitions. They were great sides because they had great players. Right now, Germany have as main attacking threat Gomez, a player still on trial at Bayern Munich when it comes to his capabilities.

    Germany are based on Bayern Munich, a team deeply hurt by the loss of the Champions League trophy to a depleted Chelsea side. They do have 9 points but they haven't electrified the viewers.

    It's true that Germany tends to play better as a competition progresses. I'm actually very curious and very interested in how they play in the remaining fixtures.

    Does Germany have weaknesses? Yes: the defense.

  • Comment number 85.

    How can you say the Dutch have been worse than Ireland!?

    If the Dutch played Ireland tomorrow, the Dutch would win 5-0, Shay Given with a hat-trick of own goals followed by another Van der Vaart piledriver before Heitinga dribbles through Richard Dunne's legs and shoots past the despairing Given.

    To compare the Dutch with the Irish is laughable. Not one Irish player would make the Dutch team. Van Persie - Simon Cox strike partnership? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 86.

    82. At 01:54 19th Jun 2012, Captain Hindsight wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    If you could actually expand on your point, rather than posting something along the lines of drunken, stream-of-consciousness gibberish, then I would be delighted to oblige.

    Until then, you'll just have to be noted as another hater who just can't combat my expert, knowledgeable and insightful points on the beautiful game and beyond.

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 86 well I've written many times and you've responded as little as two comments later- how about you explain to my why the UEFA coefficients look so fondly upon 'the pub league' EPL and why it has a superior Champions League record to La Liga in recent years?

  • Comment number 89.

    *me- just in case you use that as the central focus of your reply lol

  • Comment number 90.

    ENGLAND FANS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO LABEL GERMANY AS AN "OVERRATED" TEAM BECAUSE THEY GOT WHOOPED IN 2010. LEARN HOW TO RESPECT OTHER TEAMS. TYPICAL ENGLISH MENTALITY

    AND YES, I WROTE IN CAPS....PROBLEM?

  • Comment number 91.

    @Mind the gap, I hear you. If Gomes doesn't deliver, there is Podolski & Klose can always come in. German's attack is great. The defence is indeed the weakest link, Especially Boateng's side.
    I would also like to see how we play the remaining games. These are do or die games which means its guns blazzing time.

  • Comment number 92.

    steelsabsolut @90

    Steady on mate, soul patch that wrote that and as an Englishman I am more than happy to state, he is not one of us.

    For the record Germany are comparable to Brasil in terms of international tournament success, where it really counts. Brasil in terms of actual tournament wins but probably Germany in terms of quarters, semis and final appearances.

    Then it would probably be Italy followed by France and Uruguay.

    My only wish, is to know how they have done that for more than 60 years.

  • Comment number 93.

    @The_Soul_Patch_of_David_Villa, nonsense my foot. You're the one writing nonsense. Spain then had guts. Xavi & Iniesta were in a class of their own. Torres was sheer class not a joke he is now. Villa was sublime. They may not have scored more goals but they were not dull or one dimensional. At the WC in 2010, they got worse. Churning 1-0 victories to the final. They were still watchable, but now they are an utter bore fest.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ the_soul_patch_of_tyler_durden

    Firstly, where the devil is my soap? I requested this some days ago and as of yet it has not been forthcoming - I need a bath.

    Secondly, why are you always on this site spouting the same drivel, with the same words you have found in the thesaurus with your anti english bile as per usual.

    Maybe you should look at getting a girlfriend - just make sure she is not English.

  • Comment number 95.

    I just hope Hodgson has the courage to replace Rooney early on if he doesn't show form (how many weeks now is it since he a match game ). Come on England !!

  • Comment number 96.

    Well I'm off to bed now but Soul_Patch, the fact you never take on the arguments I've made says enough. It's just a fact that the EPL is better for depth of top quality teams if you look at the Champions League, and is the best league in the world long term. Go troll on a different website I reckon, or get a girlfriend?

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 25. At 00:03 19th Jun 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    I almost want to England to finish second in their group, just so as they can be taught a footballing lesson by the sizzlingly sensational Spanish side.

    Can you imagine the likes of Johnson, Cole, Lescott, Terry, Parker and Gerrard against Cesc, Silva, Navas, Torres, Iniesta, Xavi, et al.?

    As much as I love Spain, I'm also an empath, and I might not even watch that game, as it would be painful viewing; 5-1 or 6-1 would be the FT score.

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

    So basically the same invincible Spain team that lost 1-0 back in November to an England team in which Terry, Gerrard and Rooney didnt even feature.

    your obvious come back will be it was a friendly and it doesnt count, but b*llsh*t, every game counts.

  • Comment number 98.

    Yeah, England lack the talent of Spain and Germany...

    But then again - on paper - The Netherlands have (had) perhaps the most talented squad of all, with Robben, Van Persie, Van der Vaart, Schneider, Huntelaar, Kuyt... and those are just the attacking players... Look where THEY are now; England have every reason in the world for hope, at the very least...

  • Comment number 99.

    Come on England! We'll get out of the group(might be scrappy), I think we'll even give Spain a decent game... remember the recent friendly anyone? I'm all for us pulling of a Chelsea.

    Final will be Greece VS England. A scrappy affair. Very ugly and dull football not for the purists.

    There you go you heard it first from me. :)

  • Comment number 100.

    Just read the page on tournament rules:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18454917

    so... am I correct in thinking that if England lose 0-1, and France lose 1-3, then the decision on who goes through in 2nd place will be based on FIFA ranking points (which holds England 6th, France 14th)??

    Either that or FIFA fairplay league... meaining we are surely screwed! lol

    Still, must be some good odds on that, maybe worth a little flutter?!

 

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