The pressure on England is not quite of the same seismic proportions it usually is around this time before a major tournament. Impressive qualifying displays and friendly victories have seen the media get a little giddy, yes, but we are yet to see the full ‘this is our year’ nonsense that usually precedes a European Championship or a World Cup.
Whilst this is something that is easy to explain, it is peculiar and alien to the average English national team fan. We are accustomed to flags out of car windows, pubs’ promotional offers and tabloid hysteria at this stage, it’s hard to really get our heads around this realism. Realism, in English football, really?!
Yes, realism seems to be a new idea for England and it could well be a nice change. I, for one, am looking forward to England’s relaxed build up to the tournament rather than the absurd expectation.
However, we love a bit of hype. So, here are FIVE reasons England fans should be confident…
It might not just be Jamie Vardy having a party.
The majority of this England squad are there on their recent form and this can only be a good sign for the summer. The momentum of playing at the top of their respective games towards the end of the campaign may just carry England a little further in France than many would expect.
Without the battle scars of the previous golden generation, England can produce a fearless brand of football that is seldom associated with the Three Lions.
The fast flowing football produced in recent friendlies – particularly against Germany – should be a sign of things to come and it represents a team that can approach a major tournament without the heartache of previous humiliations.
Obviously a successful tournament for England will not be defined by the group stage, but the rather comfortable start England should experience will help them going further into the knockout stages.
Russia, Slovakia and Wales are all evidently at the EUROs on merit, yet England would’ve expected a far more challenging group when the draw was made. The chance to experiment slightly, relax a little and express themselves in the groups can only be a positive for England.
It’s always nice for managers to have options in a squad and Roy Hodgson has a plethora of them. Between systems – with a 4-4-2 diamond or 4-2-3-1 looking likely – and even the players to slot into different roles, the England manager has a buffet of alternatives.
Defensively, it is a little more restricted, but the options throughout the midfield and final third are aided by a number of highly versatile players. Tactically flexibility could prove key to England pushing on later in the tournament.
In Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, England have two of the most prolific goal scorers in Europe this season.
Teams with reliable finishers will always pose a threat whomever they may face and this is before we even consider the in-form Marcus Rashford and the classy Daniel Sturridge. There is an exciting feeling about a team with a wide range of striking options and England will definitely fancy themselves to out score any opponent.