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England win over the locals but now face tougher tests

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Phil McNulty | 15:13 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

Euro 2012: Krakow

The penalty spots may have been missing but everything else was in place as England opened their doors to the Polish people for their Euro 2012 training session.

After what Uefa described as "isolated incidents of racist chanting" during the Netherlands' training, England's reception could not have been warmer inside the compact Hutnik stadium on the outskirts of Krakow.

At an open session on Friday they were met by perfect warm conditions and 3,000 locals as they entered a meticulously prepared playing surface through a guard of honour formed by schoolchildren.

If there were any fears of racism casting a shadow over proceedings they were instantly dispelled. The people of Krakow were clearly receptive to Roy Hodgson's team and the players responded in kind in their mission to embrace the place they have made their home for Euro 2012.

Hodgson's public profile could barely have been lower since England arrived in Krakow on Wednesday - no media conferences and as yet no public pronouncements as they prepare for Monday's opening game against France in the Donbass Arena.

Hodgson may yet find that Football Association chairman David Bernstein's reference to discussion of Rio Ferdinand's exclusion as mere "historical exchanges" is a little optimistic, but the manager's attention was only on the players at his disposal in Krakow.

England players were greeted by the Polish locals on their way to their civic reception. Photo: PA

The 64-year-old was in fine voice as he put his players through what, in some cases, was mainly a recovery session after some heavier work on Thursday. Apart from Jermain Defoe, back in England following the death of his father, all were present and correct although many restricted themselves to the gym after a gentle jog in front of appreciative Polish supporters.

Hodgson's low-key approach will soon come to a close as the serious business starts. What he calls "the preparatory games" against Norway and Belgium have been successfully negotiated - his new role now moves on to a more serious footing against Laurent Blanc's in-form French.

The spirit among England's players was good and the public relations exercise well handled as they paraded a banner reading, in both English and Polish, "Thank you for your warm welcome in Krakow" while players happily posed for photographs and signed autographs at the session's conclusion.

And the fact that it was played out in steadily rising temperatures may have been of service to Hodgson as the weather forecast predicts searing heat of around 35C in Donetsk on Monday, a significant hike from Poland.

France are already in Ukraine and used to the conditions so Hodgson will have been glad of the work-out as part of what has effectively been a crash course in preparation following his appointment last month.

He presents a sharp contrast to his predecessor Fabio Capello as England go through their training drills. The Italian was an observer from the sidelines, restricting himself to the occasional key point; Hodgson is hands-on in all things.

The absence of penalty spots drew much attention - but it did not stop an extended session of finishing for England's strikers, one with decidedly mixed results.

The deft nature of his winning goal against Belgium at Wembley last Saturday and his natural link with Manchester United team-mate Ashley Young has given Danny Welbeck the edge in his battle with Liverpool's Andy Carroll for a starting place against France.

And on the evidence presented in training, Welbeck only strengthened his claims. He was far more clinical in his finishing work while Carroll was inconsistent, with one horribly skied effort drawing an amused reaction from the locals.

England have proved popular tourists in Krakow - but it will count for nothing when the Euro 2012 scenery shifts to the group games in Ukraine. The 40 days and 40 nights Hodgson had to prepare for this day are coming to a conclusion.

The former Finland and Switzerland boss knows this is a tough group to navigate a way out of but there is quiet confidence in England's camp, as expressed by the likes of captain Steven Gerrard - the winner of the unofficial popularity contest in Hutnik with Liverpool shirts much in evidence - and goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Injuries aside the team is mostly settled, although Hodgson may yet give more consideration to his wide players. Expectations surrounding England have rarely been lower but old instincts will kick in once Euro 2012 starts and any sort of failure will be frowned upon.

England will take a watching brief for the first days of Euro 2012 but the tough questions for Hodgson and his players will not be long in coming.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Injuries aside the team is mostly settled, although Hodgson may yet give more consideration to his wide players.

    I wouldn't say the team is settled. I don't think it's clear who our best 2 wingers are (from the limited talent we have available).

  • Comment number 2.

    And the fact that it was played out in steadily rising temperatures may have been of service to Hodgson as the weather forecast predicts searing heat of around 35C in Donetsk on Monday

    Sorry to be critical again but the match kicks of at 5pm BST. Ukraine is a 2 hours ahead of us so it will be 7pm there. I don't think conditions will be too oppresive at that time in the evening.

    In fact one of the good things about this tournament is that all of the matches kick off in the evening local time. The early starts will be 6pm in Poland and 7pm in Ukraine and the late ones 8.45pm and 9.45pm respectively.

  • Comment number 3.

    Apologies - that should have been kicks off

  • Comment number 4.

    Go England

  • Comment number 5.

    Never mind old Rio, I still cannot understand the omission of regular goalscorer Peter Crouch!

  • Comment number 6.

    @BaggiosPonytail did you actually read the words that you pasted in there? MOSTLY settled. May want to give more consideration to the wide players, meaning he doesn't know what the best selection is yet. Muppet...

    I would imagine that Milner will play on whatever side Ribery is to counter him, with Downing the more likely to play on the other side as i think Walcott will be used as more of an impact player against France. However i expect him to get the nod over Downing against Sweden and Ukraine

  • Comment number 7.


    With the exception of the wide players the team is mostly settled, which is exactly what Phil was pointing out.

  • Comment number 8.

    Score very difficult to predict for this one, what with all the upsets going on this year and such.

    Obviously depends on the starting line-up and first few minutes into the match how the game will go etc. Going for a score-draw. Can see England grabbing a goal or 2 after the French score.

  • Comment number 9.

    Come on England!!!!

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    Wow, my bad. Forgot that these are the Greeks! They still have the older qualities and Poland have started off quite nervously.

    1-1 it is then =]

  • Comment number 12.

    I do hope they've left the annoying band at home - why is it that they always play those annoying tunes from the stands, drown out any commentary and ruin the atmosphere? I bet they all get free tickets too - fingers crossed they take the Robbie Earle angle.
    I once read it was the chap with the strap on bird - not Rod Hull, god rest his soul, and tv aerial, but the other one.

  • Comment number 13.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 14.

    You were right Phil we are like Greece, crap.

  • Comment number 15.

    In Euro 04, playing France was hugely anticipated from the draw to the game. This time it's hardly registered (certainly here but not sure in France).
    Playing Sweden around that time (well WCs 02 and 06 sandwiched the tournament) SGE was manager so the obvious headlines then.
    Ukraine are the Co-hosts but no real history in the fixture.

    Basically on the above this time around, good thing, less fuss. In fact you'd also forget who we're playing because other things have been going on off the pitch!

    Plus as mentioned, I don't think the hot weather will make much difference. The Polish Games (A&C) kick off at 18:00 and 20:45 (1 hr ahead of BST) and Ukraine Games (B&D) at 19:00 and 21:45 (2 hrs ahead of BST). Muggy evenings but more comfortable. England have a 19:00 KO against France and 21:45 for the other two.

    Plus the good news for the tournament is once the Ukraine-France game is over, every game from then on (Eng-Swe, final group match double headers, QF,SF,F) will be at 19:45 BST/ 20:45 Poland (CEST)/21:45 Ukraine so good for viewing figures.

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    england are in trouble this championship i think, though its bad that a lot of the man u fans are hoping they get beat. Madness eh!

  • Comment number 18.

    Wow, now that start was almost fitting for a final. Almost, minus a good dollop of quality.

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    Englands preperations does seem low key this time around. Hopefully the team will have their minds set on the job ahead and not treat the Euro's as a "holiday for thier bloody WAGS"

  • Comment number 21.

    Every shot I see of the team - it looks like they are in a deep depression... how about a few smiles, waving and acknowledging the fans. Everything looks to have been organised by some partime PR guys, but nothing looks to come from the heart. After the very critical press they could do a lot more to win over a country that is usually very pro English football, but after some of the recent press comments ... how about a few words in Polish...they say they want to be perfect tourists.

  • Comment number 22.


    Didn't last - thought they were woeful.


    All the Man U fans can think about is how many Liverpool players are in the squad - they just can't get over it :o))

  • Comment number 23.


    I think Greece and Poland are the weakest teams in the competition. I would expect Russia to top the group easily and Czech Republic to finish second.

  • Comment number 24.


    Personally i think this is a good squad in terms of team chemistry, the lads look relaxed and seem to be enjoying themselves.

    Well done Roy

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 22 Agreed.

    Howard webb is refereeing. He may be the only Englishman left in the tournament after the group stages.

  • Comment number 26.

    Mistyped. I agree with post's 23 comments not 22.

  • Comment number 27.

    I really, really hope we do well but I just can't for the life of me see it happening. Anyway fingers crossed. Hope the ref is better than the one in the opening game.

  • Comment number 28.

    Much prefer this kind of preparation to Capello's, hopefully we can do a lot better with the spotlight off and little expectation. The pressure in SA was ridiculous for the squad to deal with so feeling not optimistic about what we can do but less likely to be disappointed.

  • Comment number 29.

    I just hope we dont go out with a wimper... i feel the choice of Milner and Downing will mean we spend most of the game against France in our own half with essentially 4 full backs and no out ball when we gain possesion.. i fancy a long night and an enivitable defeat. Everyone knows we can win it so why cant we just pay Oxlade Chamberlain and Walcott instead?

  • Comment number 30.

    The European Championship is a Mickey Mouse tournament.

  • Comment number 31.


    Totally agree - Capello was so intense.


    Whatever you say mate :o)

  • Comment number 32.


    It cant be otherwise Scotland would be in it.

  • Comment number 33.

    How can it be a Mickey Mouse Tournament - he's American and the USA aren't included in it !!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    #30 Are you trying to live up to the stereotype that hunks are stupid?

  • Comment number 35.

    Why are we expected to lose to France? Much higher ranked under both the FIFA and Elo rating systems - indeed, in the Elo system, England have increased their rating points by 33 in the last year compared to 31 for France. (Frances unbeaten record is impressive until you realise that they have played a relatively weak set of opponents - average rating 1648 compared to England's opponents average of 1724.) Of course, we have a lot of injuries to players who would probably have made the squad, but the core of the squad is still made up of the players from qualifying round. Add to this Hodgson's tactics, which are much better suited to the players, particularly in the group stage, and I don't see why the expectations are so negative.

  • Comment number 36.

    I fail to see what the prevalence of club shirts has to do the national side. I thought putting these petty cliques to one side was part of what it was all about regards being a team this summer.

  • Comment number 37.

    For the first time in over 40 years the media have not put the huge pressure of expectation on the England squad and I think it will work in their favour. This time they have all but written off your chances and,as a Scot, I thought it was our job to rubbish you.
    England will easily reach the quarter final stages and after that anything can happen in a one off match. Most of the English guys where I work don`t expect you to get out of the group stages but the team might just surprise you- and the media.

  • Comment number 38.

    (Frances unbeaten record is impressive until you realise that they have played a relatively weak set of opponents - average rating 1648 compared to England's opponents average of 1724.)

    statistics and figures tell only part of the story, and no one takes FIFA rankings very seriously. Our opponents include Brazil and England and Germany away so that argument is void too. But I think the game will be very close with one goal deciding it.

    On a separate note today's game were very exciting indeed, but also though I missed the first game, in the second I dont recall any diving, any player going off for treatment, or any harassment of the ref. Well done both, and hope us western Europeans will behave similarly

  • Comment number 39.

    Another football article with racism as the topic. This time, no racism to report. Give a rest!

    I am absolutely sick of the BBC trying to find any racism they can in any situation. I'll bet the Dutch haven't reported what happened to their players and mentioned it as much as the BBC has here in the UK. Even on the 5 live commentary Pat Nevin went out of his way to comment if one of the players had 'loud whistles' because he was black. Loud whistles at a football game? How terrible; these racists are pure evil!

    I'm on the verge of going elsewhere for my sporting news. You aren't reporting the sport. Just your morbid fascination with racism. You are ruining this tournament for the public.

  • Comment number 40.

    I hear that the England team visited Auschwitz today. I went there and it really unsettled me. I couldn`t think about anything else for days. How could one person do it to another?. How could one nation do this to another?. Who knew about it?. Why didn`t they do anything?. Auschwitz isn`t a tourist attraction. Is this the best preparation for a game on Monday?. I think not. It needs to be seen, so that we don`t forget and make sure it doesnt happen again. But three days before the first game?

  • Comment number 41.

    From what I have seen of the two games today England should have no fears from that group.

  • Comment number 42.

    All you muppets blogging away while there is a game going on, are ye really interested in footballl?
    @ 41
    Are you serious?

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 inspired me to register.

    #39 totally understand what you're saying but...

    #37 Absolutely spot on! AND he's Scottish.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm not sure why everyone is talking up France. They were rubbish in South Africa, and in qualifying could only manage to draw with Belgium, Bosnia and Romania. Sure, that made them ünbeaten", but drawing against lesser teams is hardly cause for boasting. This game could go either way and it will likely only be won by a single goal. Look at the last time we met them. Had Becks made that penalty, you're looking at 2-0 to England. But he missed, Zidane scored a soft goal in the final minute and it's 2-1 France.

    You can't predct games like this. The final result will likely be down to single act: a disallowed goal, red card, missed tackle, missed penalty, incorrect offside decision, etc. It always is. Luck is the biggest factor in international football.

  • Comment number 45.

    The last time we met them in a competition, I meant

  • Comment number 46.

    @ SwampPuppet: I don't mind the articles on racism if it keeps them (the media) from criticising England players and fans. I remember in France 98 when there were images of Tunisians fans (waving Tunisian flags, for goodness sake) throwing bricks at England fans. That day the police arrested ten times more Tunisians than England fans, but guess who the apologist BBC blamed?

  • Comment number 47.

    Dizzee69 talks sense.

    My 'pretty random' prediction is that England will lose against France AND Sweden and it will come down to playing Ukraine. Everyone and Anyone can lose in this group.

    We will all know at 5.45pm Monday how we'll do in this competition.

    After SA and the 'yeah, we're playing badly but we're through' doesn't work anymore with England fans after the pasting we took.

    All you can do is clench your fists, shout at the TV, and hope to god that this may be the year that 'something!' flippin happens for once!!!!

    C'mon England!!! Surely we're ready for at least a '96!

  • Comment number 48.


    Aren't our group games being played in the Ukraine?

    So who gives a toss about charming the Polish people? They may not be seeing us in action.

    And, thanks to this so-called Govt of ours, we've now wound up our hosts & UEFA into the bargain with this moronic boycott.

    As to how we'll do, having watched the opening games, I won't voice an opinion, but the hype's starting already-a few people blogging here seem to have not seen France play in 2 years, so how the hell they know what's likely to happen on Monday, God only knows!

  • Comment number 49.

    Agree that the France game is vital. Anything other than defeat and there is a strong possibility of qualifying. A win would really set us up! But but but!!!!!

    The starting line up will have played together as a team only once or twice
    We continually give the ball away when in possession
    We pass the ball too high and too long
    We can be tactically naive in games - like gung ho when 1-0 down with an hour left

    Anyway, the fun has surely to be had comparing and contrasting the greatest show on earth or what is more correctly called Punditus Maximus Platitudinous. Yes look forward to serial inane comments from the overpaid ex Footballer Pundit masquerading as insight. Ideally I can watch with the sound turned down and some bright spark has arranged to have the Football Weekly Podcast with James Richardson and the brilliant Barry Glendenning talking me through the Action. It will also help not having to listen to numerous renditions of God Save The Queen.

  • Comment number 50.

    Two enjoyable matches on the first day of the tournament. I thought Russia were excellent. Arshavin is a mercurial talent as he demonstrated at Arsenal but he looked really dangerous tonight. Dzagoev was very impressive too. They have options up front with the likes of Pogrebnyak and Pavlyuchenko to come off the bench when required. Could be dark horses to win the tournament.

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 44

    The reason "Hollywood Beckham" missed his penalty in that game is because like all England players he simply "bottled it". This was the moment he could have had the game won but he couldn't cope. After all the red carpet fame he receives he is nothing more than an overated footballer turned "celebrity". Zidane showed Becks how it was done in that game. Sheer composure from real footballing superstar. France to win.

  • Comment number 52.

    what nonsense is this headline. kissing babies and kicking a ball around isnt as tough as playing france on monday?

    I thought the poles would have better taste than to love a bunch of overpaid, oversexed, over hyped lads with massive egos.

  • Comment number 53.

    Slightly unrelated to this post but did anyone hear the stats about samaras? Four goals all season in spl against vastly inferior opposition? I dunno if he had injuries or didn't play many games but that is woeful and he was awful today unlike the geezer who scored greeces goal. By the way I loved the footage of sent off keeper watching the penalty on a tv after being sent off.

    I thought pavlychenko was awesome as soon as he came on

    All in all surprised how entertaining today's footie has been

  • Comment number 54.

    Go on Englandshire! My one quarter Englishness will be cheering thee all the way. I might be a Scot but I'll be giving the telly a right shouting at cheering on 'Engerland'. What you want is some passion - sing that anthem at the top of your voice, play for the shirt and your flag, be proud, be determined and get stuck in like nothing else matters. Stuff this negativity, get in there and gie it some welly! I've no advice for the players though....

    God Save the Queen!

  • Comment number 55.


    I don't think based on the fact neck hon bottled it 8 years ago and zidane kept his composure will have any bearing on Monday's game

  • Comment number 56.

    Sorry Beckham not neck hon bleeding predictive text

  • Comment number 57.

    Cant see anything but another disaster for England. The squad looks extremely weak, technically poor with no talisman. South Africa was our worst tournament ever but this could be even worse.

    We'll lose to France, that's a certainty, we have a poor recent record against Sweden in competitive games and a game against the hosts Ukraine isn't what the doctor ordered.

    I honestly cant see the evidence to predict anything other than a group elimination and even if they did survive the group stages we'd go out to the first decent team we meet.

    The continentals all have nimble, skilful players, something we lack in any sort of numbers. As always we're good at filling our squad with 6 footers who can hoof the ball miles. Also we'll no doubt resort to playing this tappy lappy passing the ball along the backline for 10 minutes as the continentals did in the 1980's and then take 5 minutes to get up the other end.

    Lets face it our coaching methods are outdated and no amount of "national training centres" is going to change that. Shiny new buildings dont win you matches at the euro's.

    Our lads will watch the knockout stages on TV in England, whilst night clubbing, counting their money or playing on their X Boxes.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm a Manchester United fan and I have no problem with Liverpool players being in the squad... as long as they are decent players, or at least better than any options left behind. Unfortunately players like Martin Kelly, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carrol are not only NOT up to standard but they have been in dreadful form also.

  • Comment number 59.

    Codex, the whole squad looks extremely lightweight. When interviewed the players look absolutely terrified of the whole event and this is without any sort of expectation.

    Chris Waddle was right when he said that give it a decade and England will be picking the national squad from The Football League.

  • Comment number 60.

    Russia looked pretty good and very dangerous on the counter-attack. Czech players looked well off the pace at times. I thought Howard Webb had a very good game - hopefully he won't prove to be the most accomplished Englishman in the tournament...

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 53 Alexweston30

    Did you also notice the substitute keeper for Poland moving the ball before the penalty? Perhaps that distracted Karagounis.

    Russia scored 4 and could have had several more - Kerzhakov was particularly wasteful.

    I thought it would be an entertaining tournament and so far it's not disappointed.

  • Comment number 62.

    @ 55

    My post was in response to #44.

    The point i was making that when England come up with the chance to win a vital game. They tend to blow it as they fail to keep any courage when these opportunities occur. This was 8 years ago then 2 years later they cocked up in the penalty shoot out with Portugal as they did 2 years before. Euro'08 they blew qualification. 2010? well we all know the disaster that happened then. Dont forget all the failure that was also 2002, 2000,98,94 (again did not qualify),92,88. You see i could go even further back in time with England football failure. Dont forget 2 world cups in the 70's they failed to bloody qualify. The problem is the mentality of the English footballer. Failure! they know defeat will happen. 1990 (not so much) but 1996 was possibly the only time England had belief on the pitch.

    What annoys me is when the players themselves hype the team up and talk success only then to then balls it all up.

  • Comment number 63.

    I see Wayne Rooney has said England can win it. Funny how none of the players from nations who actually have a chance of winning it ever say things like that.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 62 yeah I know what you mean mate. I did feel distaste when there was an ad for the other channels footage of game Monday that showed us against germany in 96 with the tag line along the lines of 'we could win don't stop believing'. And largely I have and I won't feel that bad if we get yorked out the group stages

    However I do also believe that in every single English England team batterer there is a little person in them filled with hope there is with me!

    So please guys try and be a bit positive and you never know. Other than that just enjoy tournament as a whole

    Did anyone feel a bit of trepidation watching Keane next to vierra?!!

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.


    I've seen them pointless ads. Gazza was to fat to reach the ball though.

    I was hoping Viera would get up and chin Keane live on t.v. Wouldn't that have been funny

  • Comment number 67.

    50. At 23:30 8th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:

    As an Ireland supporter, on both occasions we played them (Russia) they were far superior. But, they can be a bit flaky if you go at them, which in fairness to the Czechs, they did do for a while in 2nd half. Our game in Dublin, they absolutely tonked us in 1st half, but we managed to get 2 back in 2nd half and might even have nicked a draw given enough time.
    I had to laugh at the guy earlier though saying he saw nothing for England to worry about. Even the Czechs, look superior to me.

  • Comment number 68.

    Would like state the obvious here. This blog is misleading because it's a well know fact that out of 16 teams in the euros, England are 100%, the most hated team. Personally can't wait to see them get put out in the group stage. The team is a joke and they'll struggle to beat Ukraine and sweden nevermind your so called main worry France.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm not sure why everyone is talking up France. They were rubbish in South Africa, and in qualifying could only manage to draw with Belgium, Bosnia and Romania.

    who's talking us up? not us! Besides it was hard beating Belgium as they weren't in our group! We also beat the germans away, the english away and the brazilians. when was the last time you beat any of these three (swap england for us) friendly or not.
    Finally as poor as we were in SA that was 2 years ago! different team and manager. absolutely no relevance!
    It will be a tight game, one goal in it I reckon.

  • Comment number 70.

    Had Becks made that penalty, you're looking at 2-0 to England. But he missed, Zidane scored a soft goal in the final minute and it's 2-1 France.

    so? that's not France's fault. How was Zidane's goal a soft goal? are you debating the error from your defence, the ref decision or the execution of the goals??
    Bottom line was when you need a player to step up and make a difference we had the best in the world at the time, you didnt. Though that game has absolutely no relevance for Monday's game

  • Comment number 71.

    @ 68

    objective views always welcome!

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 67 Frank Black

    Russia were rather sloppy at the back, it will be interesting to see how they perform against the likes of Germany or the Netherlands.

    I'm looking forward to seeing Ireland in action. I have fond memories of them in past tournaments. I particularly remember USA '94 and Houghton's looping goal against Italy. I think the key match for the Irish is the first one against Croatia. If they manage to get 3 points from that then you have a chance of progressing.

    Is Given going to be ready for the first match do you think? If he is not 100% fit is he worth risking anyway?

  • Comment number 73.

    We'll see if Roy can get them working. England deserves some real spirited play from the first kick off.

  • Comment number 74.

    What's the point in training in Krakow, exactly? Donetsk is almost as far from Krakow as London is.

  • Comment number 75.

    I can't believe people are talking down the French!?!? Let me share something with you, why I think France will win 2-1 (if we play well!):

    They are unbeaten in 22
    They have conceded 3 times in 12 matches and ended up winning all 3 games
    They have an excellent back line and keeper (with the exception of Mexes)
    They have an excellent midfield with skill, power and mobility
    They have sound tactics and good spirit to win.

    We on the other hand have Downing & Henderson saying they don't fear the French!

    Seriously guys if I wasn't putting my own hard earned down i'd be saying yeah waay 3-0 England get your brass band out... But being totally realistic and honest I can just about manage to speculate on us scoring once and IF we play well (that is one big IF too) restricting them to just a goal or two.

    so without wanting to damped spirits, looking at the squad - the lack of experience and pace in our backline, the lack of movement and creativity in midfield, and the lack of a certain Mr Rooney I can feel pretty confident that my £15 on France winning 2-1 with us scoring a late consolation is pretty likely.

    Roy has improved them no end, I love the work he has done but he is not a miracle worker! I say if we escape the group he should be given a nighthood lol.

    Sorry boys but I think 2-1 is generous with the current squad. France just have too much skill and too much power for us at the moment. Perhaps by 2014 we will have improved enough to take them on but for now; well to be frank our only chance of salvaging anything here is to park the bus and stick Andy Carroll upfront along and get some longballs / crosses towards him. Try to keep it tight and compact through the middle and pass out to our wingers for quick counter attacks through Walcott / Oxo / Young.

    I got some pretty good odds on that game:

    7/5 France to win
    9/1 France to win 2-1
    40/1 on 2-1 with Carroll scoring the consolation

    Seriously that is the smart money right there! The odds are far too generous on England winning or drawing it's just a bookies con to draw you all in.

    Don't be fooled!!

  • Comment number 76.

    ''19. At 19:21 8th cze 2012, Dustoff wrote:
    I still cannot understand why UEFA even contempated Poland & Ukraine even apply to host the Euros, have they not got any sence or common dog at all. this whole Racist issue is going to ostrasise the two countries for a very long time. What amazed me was the fact that the Governments & local police didnt even recognise they have the problem. CRAZY''

    Look on a mirror yourself, mate. Your comment is racist.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 72 BaggiosPonytail

    I would go with Given even at 80%. He is without doubt our most valuable player.
    I am not expecting much from them t.b.h. But if or whenever we score, Tardelli has vowed to re-enact his famous goal scoring celebration. I'm not sure it will be as fluent as the original as he looks like he has been tucking into the Florentine steak since he hung up his boots.

  • Comment number 78.

    ''74. At 01:43 9th cze 2012, Paul wrote:
    What's the point in training in Krakow, exactly? Donetsk is almost as far from Krakow as London is.''
    London-Donetsk 1946 miles
    Krakow-Donetsk 936 miles by mapsgoogles
    Maybe not almost but really so far.

  • Comment number 79.


    Perhaps knowing full well England are doomed to exit at the group stage, he just wanted our younger players to experience the flying around and being respectful, ready to go, training abroad aspects of European football - to gain experience on and off the field so we can hopefully use this in future tournaments where we have a more realistic chance of progression.

    That would be my take anyway, but it's pure speculation. Closer to the truth it could just be that the FA have no geographic knowledge and though "Ohh Krakow, that's in Poland we shall go there ... MARCH ON!".

    Nothing would surprise me about the FA these days!

    @72/77 Yeah I think Given is definitely your most important player even with a slight injury. He has been immense for too long whichever team has had him.

    Proper player there!

  • Comment number 80.

    Haven't changed the nick to The Rainman but reading along some comments 'oh-oh'
    The author says we have no expectations - feel we should keep it that way.

    Debate is all very well and good but in other news yesterday the majority of the squad visited Auchwitz.
    Must be one of the most terrifying and humbling places to visit on earth.
    Puts our game and their millionaire lifestyles (most up and coming) into perspective.

    They'll gain a lot of experience from this tournament and lets hope they put in a couple of good displays. Ukraine is the key game.

    Tickets for England v Ukraine world cup Qualifying Sep 11 wembley and add tons of rotting hill bananas if they start all that captain caveman nonsense at their home in this competition!
    Can anyone else believe we got both host countries of Euro 12 for WC qualifying?!

  • Comment number 81.

    Do you know, there is a fine line between lowering expectations to a realistic level (which would help all involved in this England campaign) and just being gratuitously negative. The latter helps nobody - not the supporters (some of us are actually going to try to enjoy the tournament) and not the players (call me sentimental, but I expect that it would help them to know that they have the nation's support).

    England have let us down for a long time. There is no denying that - particularly the 'golden generation' and particularly their feeble attempt in South Africa. Many of us (myself included) felt personally let down. Nobody has been able to put their finger on exactly why they have been so bad (money, WAGS, media, corrupt FA, grasstoots, no winter break - all have been suggested - none proved).

    Why not accept that it's been terrible previously, but embrace a situation where for once the England players MAY not be restricted by such a weight of expectation on them as they have previously had. Why not look positively at a new manager that has so far given us not reason to criticise him (please don't retort with RioGate version 2 - he may still be vindicated for that). Why not remember how exciting it can be when England do manage to string a few results together and play well.

    For years people have criticised England for having so many big-headded top players with massive egos. For once, with a depleted squad, this may not be an issue. The so-called 'lesser' players (who, incidentally, largely hold their own in what is often called the toughest league in the world) may actually finally be able to forge the much-needed team mentality that has been missing since 1996.

    We all know it might go horribly wrong and none of these positive notes may actually help at all. We might all, again, be crying into our beer glasses as a pathetic red card, penalty shoot out or round drubbing may again end the campaign prematurely. But what satisfaction do you get from perpetuating this possibility before they've even kicked a ball in anger?

    I say, be cautiously positive and celebrate any progress this transitional team can make.

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

    Agree with your sentiments jon (81) but we have surely hardened beyond "crying into our pint glasses" at failure now. We shold enjoy the tournament agreed but we have no expectations of progressing too far. We are a bunch of unknowns which may or may not be in our favour.

    We'll always support the team but the media have failed to undermine them this time with the Ferdinand v Terry thing. We don't expect anything other than a learning curve and 'Roy the Radish patch kid' (sic - quote) to learn about the squad too.

    Media would portray us England fans as 'bed sheet' campaigners like the A Villa or B Rovers fans that both recently IMHO disgracefully booed their own teams. They did it endlessly until they got either relegation or another mediocre manager/head coach in to replace the last one, by surviving on the other teams poor form.

    Lets get down to wembley for the WC Qualifier v Ukraine 11 Sep and throw rotten bananas onto the away fans if they so much as breath the ancient history of racism in any of their games in this tournament. The world is watching....

  • Comment number 84.

    Not sure if I have this correct but with all the contributors complaining about the amount of liverpool players in the team, maybe its because that football club have more english players in their squad.

  • Comment number 85.

    After last night's performance, Ross-I-Ya will walk it. Power, speed and form. Nobody's mentioning the Russians, but I think they will win.

  • Comment number 86.

    Another boring load of twaddle about the english plodders.


  • Comment number 87.

    Allez Les Blues!!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    #60: Howard Webb would slot into the England squad, no problem. A reasonably good performance, nothing spectacular and he missed a penalty.

  • Comment number 89.

    as correctly predicted some 3 days ago by myself:

    Russia 4 Czech Republic 1

    perhaps at last I will be taken seriously as an expert on the game.

    yours Sincerely

    A B E .

    PS: did anyone else notice the 1st live pictures from Ukraine regarding the english plodders supporters settling in ? yes you guessed it, they were drinking lager, what an advertisement the lager louts and airheads are in town.

  • Comment number 90.

    why do people keep going on about England having little or no expectations? by everybody saying this they clearly are hoping/ expecting England to atleast get to the semis. i think this is a load of rubbish tbh and it is just supporters trying to convince themselves that they are not going to do well by saying this to others, when really they do expect to challenge.
    so yes, England do have a chance of winning this. yes, i said it! no pussyfooting around the topic. Roy Hodgson has got them playing in a way that best suits them and their players- defensively orientated and counter attacking. England have a good goalkeeper, alongside Neuer in terms of talent, and a good defense in Cole, Terry etc. the only weak link is the rb where i personally think that Phil Jones should be deployed. Parker is a dm midfielder, and Gerrard is morphing into one as he gains age. Downing as a hard- working winger, as is Milner- although i doubt he will start! they have a decent chance of winning if they play winning football- simply to win! eg the Chelsea way in the Champions League this season. Rangers, my team, done this a few seasons ago to get to the Uefa Cup final.
    personally i can't see Spain winning and i think Germany will fall by the way- side. Holland are putting too much pressure on themselves to win it- some say it is their last chance for many eg Kuyt so their expectation of winning may prove their undoing.
    i put a 5er on England at 15/1. and despite not liking England as i am a Scot, i wouldn't mind of they won actually. it was between them and Russia as to who i was opting for- wrong decision perhaps after yesterdays performance!? but in all honesty i don't think Russia are good enough to knock out top teams- although they will cruise group.
    anyway, England need to stop saying they have no expectations etc and just focus on winning each game that comes. who knows where that will take them? maybe providing me with an extra £80.....

  • Comment number 91.

    For now let us whine and whinge, thus lowering our expectations and mentally, subconsciously preparing for our acrimonious exit.

    But on Monday I will be behind England all the way....might even wear one of them silly hats..........come on England!

    (Downing though, really?)

  • Comment number 92.


    no " silly " hat required

    turn up as you are.

  • Comment number 93.

    I think England's performance in the tournament will relate a lot to Gerrard's performance, as he's the one creative player in the team. Where England have been lacking for years is midfield and creative play, in my opinion. The positive for England in this respect is that Gerrard hasn't played a lot of matches this season due to injury and he's relatively fresh.

    The other positive I see as a viewer for England is that Media are concentrating on Nazi concentration camps and racism in Ukraine and have left Roy Hodgson alone. The funny thing with all this fury about "racist Ukranian football fans" is that, admittedly, racism exists deep into the system in Metropolitan Police in this country - Lawrence Inquiry - yet nobody bothers much about that.

    Russia were excellent yesterday. Czechs look like a team waiting for the next generation of stars in their team - Rosicky and Baros are by no means powerhouses in football.

    Poland are still a question mark after their first match. Excellent in the first half and disorientated in the second half. They should have eventually lose to Greece who looked all over the place in the first half and completely transformed in the second half, besides losing two defenders and playing with 10 men, unfairly.

    To me, the first day of the tournament showed only one important element in football: team spirit. Russia and Greece had it. Poland and Czech Republic didn't. The encouraging detail is that football wasn't boring and both matches were very good spectacles for different reasons.

  • Comment number 94.

    I shall be cheering England louder than most but we have to accept rebuilding for the future is the main aim.

  • Comment number 95.


    It covers my silly bald patch....(cheers Dad)

  • Comment number 96.

    Get tha hat on....

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 84

    Man utd 16 English players
    Man city 10 English players
    Spurs 12 English players
    Newcastle 17 English players
    Everton 11 English players
    Liverpool 12 English players

    So I guess your theory is wrong!! As the teams finishing above Liverpool in the league have roughly te same amount of English players although both utds a lot more!!!

    Nobody minds a lot of players from one team especially if that team has been on form as have the players, however Liverpool have been useless most of the season, the worst is the actual players as apart from Steven Gerard the other 5 pool players would struggle to get into most peoples squad and even gerarrd is there on past form!!!

    I think England have a good chance even with some
    Dodgy squad members to do well and I am unbiased as am welsh. But I don't believe for one second hodgson will pick the team most people would be happy with :(

    My team would be


    Johnson/jones (both dodgy) terry lescott coke
    Gerrard Parker
    Walcott young oxlade
    Possibly move jones to gerrard position and drop ox and move you g out wide and gerrard just behind welbeck!!

    Young exciting team but I am sure there will be no chance of this team starting :(

  • Comment number 98.

    #93. At 07:05 9th Jun 2012, Mind the gap wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration.


    Exactly my point :)
    While English media cry loud about racism in Poland, any mentioning of racism built within the system in this country is hidden under the carpet, instantly. What a joke :)

  • Comment number 99.


    correction: Ukraine

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't understand the title, it assumes that there was some inital hostility to overcome. Could it be the locals are just friendly people and not the vile racists the BBC is obsessed with reporting. Reading these blogs is like living in a parallel universe.

    Let's face it, England always expects, it just depends whether those expectations are ridiculously overblown or merely fanciful. Regardless of this they tend to get what they deserve - quarter finals is about right.


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