Euro 2012: England Preview.

When you think of European Championship winners, which teams spring to mind? The flamboyant and cultured French side who won Euro 2000? Or the stellar, fluid but equally adventurous Spanish side who won Euro 2008? Maybe if you cast your minds back to 2004 ; ignore the ‘insignificant’ stuff like the Iraq war, the fact that Tony Blair was a complete idiot or the errrrm … ‘The Invincibles’ (they sure weren’t insignificant) and you might remember a Greece side who, despite being second least favourites managed to win the Henri Delauney cup against all the odds by sitting back, soaking up the pressure, and then countering.

Similar strategy to England, non? You might also remember that Greece went on to host the Olympics later that summer. The capital of England, London will also host the Olympics later this year. Could it be possible that England will ‘do a Greece’ and … no not see their economy fail and require a bailout from the rest of the EU. Could England win the the Euro … well the simple answer is no, probably not. We just simply don’t have the players. The fact that Oxlade-Chamberlain is not only in the squad but has a good chance of starting at such a young age speaks volumes about the lack of talent which England have produced over the last few years. Admittedly ‘The Ox’ is a very good player but he wouldn’t get into any other top European national team and has mostly been restricted to substitute appearances at Arsenal this season.

We certainly won’t see a free-flowing England side this summer because without natural passers of the ball like Jack Wilshere and Frank Lampard the current team just isn’t capable of that style of play. What we will see is a more conservative and disciplined approach from Hodgson’s men by keeping it tight at the back as the main priority; possession will be a luxury item. Hodgson’s philosophy does not require possession in order to win matches, instead a key element of his is to get the ball forward as quickly as possible. Keeping the shape is also important. For England that will mean a flat back four, two central midfielders who are required to do similar if not identical jobs, two wingers whose job is simply to run at the opposition full backs and cross the ball in whilst also making sure they track back and ‘keep the shape’ and two strikers, one as a target man and the other making runs off of his flick ons.

442 may not be favoured by the majority of managers and in fact it is a dying art with the switch to the more fluid 433 becoming conventional thanks to the constant success of Barcelona and Spain in recent times however it can still work. It is also impossible to dominate possession with such a formation nowadays due to the fact that most teams will have an extra man in midfield however that does not make such a tactic inept. If England are to manage success in this competition (whether that be semi-finalists or something even greater) then we will have had to contain the opposition and then counter. I expect England will be dominated in possession in nearly every game, and however archaic the 442 formation may be it is regimental, systematic and just about our best chance of winning anything.

England’s likely lineup against France:

football formation

However unlikely success may be, lets get behind England for Alex and Theo so that they can come back in one piece ready to do the quadruple with Arsenal next year. Good luck to all the other Arsenal players as well. Happy Euro’s everyone.

Follow me on Twitter @CookieElGooner

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