Euro 2012: Can England or Portugal reach the final?
The tournament finally kicked off on Friday with a lot of fanfare and the usual fervor. For the next three weeks, Poland and Ukraine will be where pundits and fans have their eyes glued on.
Since the close of the club football calendar, speculations have been rife as to which team will conquer Europe. The hot favorites as per most observant fans will be Spain, Germany or the Dutch. Needless to say, these teams have build up their formidable reputation by consistently performing well in big tournaments over the past four to five years. These three teams also have talents in abundance with Spain probably the most spoilt for choices.
For me the baseline judgment is, one finalist will be from these three. However, if football was so easy to predict, then we all would have been pundits and the game would have no charm left. Think of FC Basel dumping Man U out of the ECL this year. So, I also feel there will be many results during the tournament that will shake our premise for judgment.
To think of other possibilities we need a quick look at the other teams that are major footballing powers like England, France, Italy, and even Portugal (don’t forget they have Ronaldo). My instinct tells me that one of these four from the chasing pack can reach the finals and even nick it.
England, for me do have the players to progress deeper in to the tournament but the question is do they have the tactical wherewithal to win on the big stage. The team does not feel like a cohesive unit though they do have some players who can change things in a matter of moments. A lot will depend on the outcome of the match this evening. If England can beat France then they will have a real chance of going further. Conversely, a defeat or a draw can impede their chances considerably because Sweden and Ukraine will be difficult to beat.
The issue for England is the absence of Rooney for the first couple of games and the bare bone defence. The midfielders too seem like a disjointed lot as there is no creative player to pivot the team. Also, if Roy Hodgson starts with Gerrard and Parker for experience, the team will become too static and find it difficult to open stubborn defenses. There has to be some speed injected into the midfield to make incisive passing, maybe the OX can be slotted in at the top of the midfield.
The key will be the time taken in transition from defence to attack. If the strikers can be brought into play quickly with the midfielders taking up good positions, England will have a good chance of scoring. Overall I feel England can have a good tournament. The best they can achieve is reaching the semi-finals. Finishing third or fourth won’t be a disaster for this current crop of players.
Portugal, on the other hand can be the joker in the pack. I think it is about time they arrive at the big stage and perform well. No doubt they possess the firepower to shoot any team down with Ronaldo, Nani and Postiga but they also have a fairly strong defence with Bruno Alves, Pepe and Favio Contrao. The balance is provided by anchors Raul Miereles and Joao Moutinho. This team looks more like a unit and if they play to their potential then they could well dictate the winners of the tournament.
The best result I see for them is reaching the semi-finals.
Article by Shubham Chaterjee
Do you agree with Shub? Can England or Portugal shock the big boys to land the trophy? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.