England crashed out of Euro 2012 on Sunday after a typically heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to Italy. Despite receiving praise for their efforts in Poland and Ukraine, the cautious approach witnessed in their performances coupled with their inability to maintain possession have led some to question whether the Three Lions can ever realistically compete with the best nations.
Despite failing to score, Italy’s victory was a triumph for the passing game while England return home with little to show for their efforts except the knowledge they tried hard and ultimately came up short once again.
Reaching a quarterfinal before losing on penalties has become par for the course when England compete at major tournaments but the defensive manner of their exit has highlighted the glaring weaknesses in the squad.
Joe Hart 7 – Having pulled of a spectacular reaction save to deny Ukraine’s Yevhen Konoplyanka from range, the Manchester City keeper kept two clean sheets during the tournament. Despite looking nervy at times and failing to save any Italian penalties, Hart’s reputation has only been enhanced by more tournament experience.
Glen Johnson 5 – The attacking fullback is better known for his ability to roam forward and were it not for Gianluigi Buffon’s quick reactions he may have received a better overall rating. Unfortunately Johnson’s defensive frailties were exposed throughout the tournament and James Milner‘s attacking impetus was curbed by the pressing need to provide cover for the Liverpool defender.
John Terry 7 – Some typically industrious performances from the Chelsea skipper drew attention away from his off field issues. With the team’s emphasis on defence, Terry was an integral part of the solidity shown by England throughout the tournament and his controversial goal line clearance against Ukraine was further evidence of his never say die attitude.
Joleon Lescott 7 – After opening the scoring against the French, Lescott’s presence diminished as the tournament progressed but he still formed a decent partnership with John Terry. With the team so focused on defensive responsibilities, the City stopper didn’t let the side down and showed he’s a threat from set pieces.
Ashley Cole 6 – Apart from missing the decisive penalty against Italy, the Chelsea left back was still an asset to side throughout the tournament. Having almost scored his first International goal against Ukraine, the defender was a leader in defence but sadly his tournament is still tarnished by such a devastating end.
James Milner 5 – The versatile midfielder endured a difficult tournament and apart from the opening game, he failed to complete 90 minutes on any other occasion. Tasked with the responsibility of covering Johnson, his attacking ability was limited and he was replaced by Theo Walcott in all but one of England’s games.
Steven Gerrard 8 – One of the few tournament plus points was the Liverpool captain’s influence on the team and his ability to drive the side forward. Thriving in Frank Lampard’s absence, the hard working midfielder’s creativity was illustrated by assists for both Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney.
Scott Parker 7 – The tough tackling midfield engine played the holding role well despite not setting the world alight. His ability to break up play allowed Gerrard to be more attacking although Parker was still guilty of losing possession and he lacked any creativity of his own when going forward.
Ashley Young 5 – A disappointing tournament for the Manchester United winger was compounded by his penalty miss. Having entered the tournament in fine goal scoring form, the tricky forward drifted in and out of games and had little influence on the team thanks to a combination of nerves and a poor first touch.
Wayne Rooney 5 – Having missed the first two games through suspension, the Manchester United striker should’ve been fit and raring to go when he was finally unleashed against Ukraine. Despite netting the winner on his return, the striker was clearly lacking match sharpness and seemed dead on his feet in extra time against the Italians, even if he did manage to score his penalty.
Danny Welbeck 6 – Although quiet for longs spells during the tournament, the striker’s physical presence and eye for goal made a decent impression. Offering a more athletic target than Carroll, Welbeck’s performances belied his inexperience and he bagged the winner against Sweden, even if it’s unclear whether or not he meant it.
Subs: Andy Carroll 6 – Another inexperienced striker who did little to harm his reputation. An excellent headed goal against Sweden highlighted the aerial threat he provides but he also showed some neat touches amidst England’s fairly limited build up play.
Theo Walcott 7 – The Arsenal winger finally got his chance at a major tournament and impressed in fits and starts. His excellent cameo against Sweden was the main highlight but England’s defensive mentality meant he was used sparingly as an impact substitute.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 5 – Arsenal’s latest home grown prospect started the opening game but hardly featured for the remainder of the tournament. Still raw and inexperienced, the winger offered little but will learn a lot from his time in Poland and Ukraine.
Jordan Henderson 5 – Despite being a shock inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s squad, the youngster fared well during limited game time. Most England fans sighed when he entered the fray but he never let the side down when replacing more senior team mates.
Jermain Defoe 4 – Apart from a brief cameo against France, the Tottenham striker hardly featured and was understandably more concerned with family matters than warming the England bench.
Do you agree with the player’s ratings? Do you think England deserve praise for their efforts at Euro 2012?
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