|photo by What Makes The Pie Shops Tick?||via PhotoRee|
The Euro’s are upon us, and the respective national teams in place and ready to go. Here are Columnist Ed’s thoughts on three of the more relevant sides (to him, at least).
This may be the last hurrah for Xavi, arguably the best midfielder in the history of the game. Spain once again seems the class of Europe. Their success will largely be a matter of how much they care about this Euro title. After winning the biggest prize world football, I’m just not sure whether the fatigued pros want it enough.
Not sure who’s left to play on the England team. Frank Lampard out and Jordan Henderson in. Eewww. Gareth Barry also out (yawn) and replaced by Phil Jagielka. And of course, most recently out is Gary Cahill after an outrageous push that deserved a red by Belgian forward Dries Mertens -- although it only got a yellow. (The push was intentional and malicious, and as bad as the injury was it could have been worse.) Oh, and Jack Wilshere never even made it to the initial team due to injury. So where does England stand?
Actually, not so bad, I think. England usually suffers from outrageously high expectations. For the first time they can play the role of the underdog. And this despite more speed than I can remember up top with Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain. There’s also that Rooney guy coming back after a suspension. Needless to say, these guys can break and they can score on the break.
As for the midfield, Scott Parker and Stephen Gerrard should be able to hold down the fort, although this is a weakness of this team even with Barry in the lineup. In short, these guys are neither terrific possession guys nor terrific runners. As much as I love Stevie G, and as much as I suspect he will do well in the Euro’s, he doesn’t seem to have the flash he did a few years ago. And perhaps it’s his ankle injury, but Scott Parker has also looked a step too slow in the friendlies.
As for the defense, I think England will be fine with Ashley Cole, John Terry, Phil Jagielka, Martin Kelly and Glenn Johnson. Cahill would have been nice, but this squad will be fine.
Finally, Manager Hodgson will have this team playing disciplined and tight football. It probably won’t be easy on the eyes, but I suspect more games just like the one they played against Belgium. For most of the game, Belgium looked the better team, but England was of course the most lethal. You simply cannot get too aggressive with the finishers England has up top, and sometimes when you dominate possession you tend to forget their skill and push too far forward.
This is farlieonfootie for June 7.