England are going to win the EUROs!
Okay, they probably won’t and, before we go into full euphoria at the prospect of the knockout stages, it is a decent time to check out some of the opponents England will face in the knockout stages. Roy Hodgson was probably pretty chirpy when he saw England drawn in a group with some of the tournaments smaller names, but it doesn’t mean they are without threat.
England might think they can fight back with Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli, but they shouldn’t get ahead of themselves about their hopes.
It’s now 50 years since England last won a major tournament and how beautifully sweet would it be to win this one? EURO 2016 has a plethora of belting teams. Roy Hodgson would be a national hero, Joe Hart would receive a knighthood and it could be the most amazing story of all time. Well, since Leicester. Just imagine…
Alas, Group B is full of threats, and here are FIVE players that could dent the Three Lions’ hopes of success… and even progression!
Bale is simply one of the best players in the world now. A stunning Champions League win for Real Madrid saw the Wales man star yet again and he has been one of the chief tormentors of La Liga defences since his 2013 move to Spain.
Wales will funnel all their play towards their flying, man-bunned hero and it could be a terrorising fixture for the backtracking Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill.
Having seen so many star players come and go at Napoli, Hamsik has been the one constant in their midfield.
Falling just short of the Scudetto last season, the Slovakian will be utterly crucial if his national team are to progress beyond the group. Drifting around from midfield into a more advanced role, Hamsik will need to be watched carefully by Eric Dier to cut the supply line to the forwards.
Whomever plays in the much-heralded ‘No.10’ role for England will have to deal with the combative Juraj Kucka when they face Slovakia.
A hard tackling midfielder, Kucka will provide the base for the Slovakian midfield whilst players like Marek Hamsik offer the invention. He will face quite a challenge against England’s midfield, but the AC Milan star should be more than up to.
For season after season, Akinfeev was tipped as the next big Russian thing.
The now-experienced goalkeeper is still at the peak of his game and has been a stalwart for both CSKA Moscow and Russia over the past few years. The veteran Russian defence might struggle with the pace of Vardy and intelligence of Kane, but Akinfeev will be more than adequate at the final line of defence.
Very much second-in-command to Gareth Bale, Ramsey will be tasked with taking up the attacking mantle when Bale is being double – or even triple – marked.
More than capable of providing goals from deep, Ramsey will need to be tracked as he break through the lines and it will take some tactical awareness from Alli and Wilshere.