England to beat history for Euro glory?
|BettingExpert/Betfair Euro 2012 blog correspondent entry profile|
|Ali Stafford writes for numerous websites as well as his own blog alistafford.wordpress.com.|
|Twitter : @AliStafford2|
|Website : AliStafford.wordpress.com|
How England are going to have to smash the history books in order to succeed in Poland and Ukraine.
In little under four week’s time, England’s latest assault for international glory begins in Ukraine, as under the new management of Roy Hodgson they go in pursuit of lifting the European Championships for the first time. While the bookies may have England sitting odds-on to comfortably progress through to the knock-out stages, history shows that qualification tithe quarter finals will far from easy.
Sitting in what looks on paper a tough looking Group D, England will be desperate for a good start to the competition when they face France in Donetsk on June 11th. Statistics show that an opening game victory for the Three Lions will take some doing, as England have NEVER won their first match in a European Championships. This dreadful record has seen England slip to opening game defeats in five of the seven championships they’ve qualified for, with a substandard 1-1 draw with Switzerland on the first day of Euro 96 being the last time they’ve avoided an opening day loss. Most recently in 2004, England squandered their one goal lead to begin the competition with a defeat, as two late Zinedine Zidane goals, the second being an injury time penalty, gave France a 2-1 victory.
If past tournament failings weren’t painful enough reading, then France’s improving record makes the chances of a strong England start to the tournament seem even more unlikely. Laurent Blanc’s side are not only unbeaten in their last 18 internationals, but the two-time European Championships haven’t lost any of their last five fixtures against England and outclassed them in their last encounter, a 2-1 victory at Wembley in 2010.
With it being 15 years since an English win over the French,none of Hodgson’s squad set to travel to this summer’s competition has ever experienced a victory over France in a full international. In fact, it is likely that Gareth Barry will be the sole survivor from the last fixture between the two sides that didn’t finish in a France victory, as the then Aston Villa midfielder made his maiden start for his country aged 19 in a 1-1 draw at the Stade de France, back in 2000. Despite England’s negative record against the French, the bookies are surprisingly undecided on the winner, with France at 9/5 slight favourites withbet365, while England are 11/8 favourites with Ladbrokes to end their opening day hoodoo.
Four days later, England travel to Kiev to face a frequent bogey team in Sweden. While an uninspiring 1-0 win in Fabio Capello’s last gamin charge back in November ended a 43 year win less run against the Swede’s, England are still yet to record a victory in a major tournament against the side sitting 17th in the FIFA world rankings. Sweden were 2-1 winners when the two sides last clashed in the Euro’s 20 years ago, while more recent meetings in both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup’s ended in draws. England are overwhelming favourites to win the game even with the poor previous record, and are odds on favourites with all major bookies to claim the three points.
The final game in the group sees England welcome back WayneRooney from his two-match suspension to face the tournament co-hosts Ukraine.With the vast majority of the 52,000 capacity crowd set to be cheering on the hosts, it will be an intimidating atmosphere for the English in what is likely to be a must win game. England were beaten in their only previous away fixture in Ukraine three years ago, and will need to gain revenge this time around to surely have any chance of progressing to the last eight of the competition. The bookies again have England has favourites to claim the points, with Ladbrokes putting them odds on at 4/5, although with the large and vocal home crowd, an English victory is far from a formality.
Should Roy Hodgson’s side beat their past demons and march on to the knock-out rounds, then it is likely that they’ll either face current holders Spain or previous winners Italy in a tough quarter final, with Germany or the Netherlands potentially waiting in the semis. While there is no question that every Englishman would love to see Scott Parker lift the title in Kiev on July 1st,it is clear that numerous records and hoodoos will have to be beaten, alongside several scalps over Europe’s elite made, for the Three Lions to secure the crown.
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