Can England win the European Championships in 2012?

England; THE big underachievers in international football. It’s been 45 years since England last won a major tournament, their only ever tournament success. And with Euro 2012 just around the corner, the question is asked again, can England triumph? Do the current crop of players at Fabio Capello’s disposal have what it takes to compete with the European elite?

Let’s look at their chances objectively. In qualification for Euro 2012 they ended up top of their group, with 5 wins, 0 losses, and 3 draws. They scored 17 and conceded 5. On paper it seems that qualification was fairly straightforward, but many, including myself, were somewhat downhearted by some unconvincing displays against the teams we were tipped to win comfortably against. So England qualified, without too much fuss, but lacking the performances needed to bring belief and hope to fans determined to see England succeed next year. It could be argued however that the qualification process isn’t a very reliable indicator of England’s chances at major tournaments. For instance, England’s almost flawless qualification for the world cup in South Africa 2 years ago empowered many to believe they could compete with the major international sides for the tournament, but it wasn’t to be as they crashed out to Germany in a 4-1 defeat in the second round. Next month England face Spain and Sweden in friendlies, perhaps they will be a better indication of how far the team can go in Euro 2012.

The team itself is going through a period of change as Capello is looking to the younger crop of players for success. In fact, only 7 out of 23 players who travelled to South Africa for last years World Cup were selected in the squad for England’s final European Qualifying match against Montenegro. It’s therefore likely that in next month’s friendlies we’ll see more opportunities given to younger, unproven players such as Daniel Sturridge, Tom Cleverley, and Kyle Walker. Despite their age, all 3 have managed to break into each of their own Premier League first teams (Chelsea, Manchester United, and Tottenham). Already they are playing on a big stage, but do they have what it takes to establish themselves as part of the national side?

Adding to Fabio Capello’s selection dilemma for Euro 2012 is the decision to take Wayne Rooney to the competition. After receiving a red card against Montenegro, Rooney will miss England’s first 3 group games IF he is selected as part of Capello’s squad. The decision to take Rooney could make or break England’s tournament hopes, he is after all regarded as one of the best strikers in the Premier League, with game-changing talent. Dominic Fifield at The Guardian, who I contacted through Twitter had this to say on the matter: “I think it would send out the wrong message to leave the team’s best and talismanic player behind. It would, in effect, suggest England did not expect to emerge from the group stage. So Rooney, as the most talented forward at Capello’s disposal, has to be selected.” I also got in touch with Martin Lipton through the social networking site, he told me: “Yes. He doesn’t really have any option. Rooney is England’s best player. If they get through the group, then he will add something to a group who are growing in confidence. If they don’t, then there’s nobody left out to accommodate him who would make that much of a difference.” So both journalists agreed Rooney must be selected, but the decision lies with Capello.

The question remains, can England win the European Championships next year? Well out of 5 sports writers I got in touch with from national newspapers, not 1 believed they could. I also conducted a Facebook poll on the matter and 75% of 83 people I asked didn’t believe England were good enough to win Euro 2012, 25% thought England could.

Personally, as an England fan with faith in the new and upcoming talent we’re producing as a nation, I think we can, but chances are I’m too optimistic for my own good. I’ll regret stating my belief in the team come June, inevitably.

4 Responses

  1. Perhaps, being Scottish after all, I could be considered a little biased, but to me England have no chance. Spain have the best crop of talent they’ve ever had and their team consists of the best players in the world (minus Messi and Ronaldo of course). After Spain, England will have to beat great teams like Germany and Holland. I’m struggling to see how Tom Cleverley is going to match Andres Iniesta, Wesley Sneijder and Mesut Ozil.

    If England do succeed, though, Wayne Rooney will be part of it. He’s England’s best player and can change games, so he simply has to go.

    Good stuff man, I love Cappello’s face and that picture! Can’t help but feel that he’s thinking about his £6 million a year in that one

  2. England have some great players and always do well in qualification but when it comes to major tournaments, they just can’t hack it. The media is also as dangerous as any opponent England faces. They either big up the team so much it would seem unconceivable that they wouldn’t win a World Cup or Euros, or they slate the team/manager that much the squad doesn’t have a hope in hell of beingconfident in their own ability.

    England COULD win the Euros but teams like Spain, Germany and Holland have better squads and are capable of winning the games against smaller teams, which England fail at sometimes.

  3. I agree with Alan but I think part of the problem is the media overhype certain players. Wayne Rooney and Gerrard (when fit) are the only two players I think could get a decent amount of playing time with the likes of Spain and Germany. Players such as Gareth Barry and Ashley Young are good players but when you compare them to the teams Alan mentioned, they’re average really.The only way England will win is if they can allow the two or three talented players the freedom and make sure everyone else works and knows their role, rather than the likes Darren Bent acting like he’s a luxury player.

  4. Wait add Ashley Cole to the list of good players.

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