Roy Hodgson’s men will be gearing themselves up for what could be the most defining tournament in English history. Their qualifying campaign makes for good reading, victorious in all 10 qualifiers they took part in, they may get little applause for the easiness of their group, but a 100% record isn’t necessarily a bad way to prepare for a European Championship. Injury-plagued strike-force Danny Welbeck and captain Wayne Rooney found the net 13 times between them. Keeping both fit is essential to any threat England may pose. This may be a last-chance saloon for Roy Hodgson to cement any hopes of future endeavours with the English national team.
It’s hard to select a stand-out man from the English ranks. The recent rise of Leicester City has seen many new faces enter the fray, leaving Hodgson scratching his head over any potential starting 11. All things considered, City forward Jamie Vardy looks the most exciting in a fruitful bunch of talent and rejuvenation. The man epitomises everything England fans are looking for, sheer hard-work, bags of pace and a goal-scoring touch that England are gasping for. Iconic captain Wayne Rooney comes into the tournament off the back of 2 months on the side-lines which has sparked mass debate over whether or not he should even be in the squad. For me, Rooney is a shoe-in starter, his experience and guile, a man who leads by example, all qualities of a true captain.
Wales and England both find themselves in a group with a robust Russia and competition debutants Slovakia. June 16th will be a date to live long in the memory of English and Welsh minds. It’s set-up to be a clash for the ages, with both sides aiming to prove a point to the whole of Europe, as well retain the notoriously prestigious UK ‘bragging rights’. Such a tough one to call, both sides and both sets of fans will be gearing up for it, so we should expect a thrilling atmosphere which may ultimately determine which team wants it more. The neutral perspective would argue that England have the better players and inconceivable talent on their side. However, the Welsh spirit is symbolic of a boisterous nation who look for hard-work and an overall team solidity to overcome fierce opposition. Russia’s frailties lie with a lack of speed and intensity, two things that England and Wales can boast, they’ll fancy their chances against Leonid Slutsky’s side. Slovakia, a completely different fish, an under-the-radar resurrection saw them battle reigning European champions Spain, even claiming a priceless victory over them during the course of qualifying. This team are very capable of scoring goals and may well relish their physical edge. But England and Wales will be expecting to beat them nonetheless and should see this as an opportunity to maximise their showcase of ability on Europe’s grandest stage.