No other country has produced so many talented players and sorely under-performed at the international stage as England has. The country that spawned the game has few honours to showcase. It has been ages since the Englishmen have lifted a trophy and I am sure they would be desperate to lay their hands on one. Every English fan would be hoping to put an end to this long wait. Will their new manager Roy Hodgson, who replaced the Italian Fabio Capello, put an end to this wait? Only time will tell.
Route to qualification
England were placed in one of the easiest groups in the qualifiers. Montenegro, Switzerland, Wales and Bulgaria hardly posed a threat to the star-studded English team. Wembley turned out to be a lucky ground for England as they hammered Bulgaria 4-0 in early September, 2010. Their next match against Switzerland was a routine affair with the Three Lions comfortably winning 3-1. However, England were held to a surprise draw at home by Montenegro in October, with neither team scoring any goal. The Englishmen visited their neighbours, the Welsh, six months later and came back with a comfortable 2-0 victory. England's erratic home form continued as the Swiss held them to a 2-2 draw on June 4, 2011. England won both the games they played in September 2011, beating Bulgaria 2-0 and Wales 1-0. Montenegro turned out to be insurmountable again and England came off with a 2-2 draw against them. With five wins and three draws Capello's boys emerged on top of their group in the qualifiers.
European championships history
England have qualified for the European championships on eight different occasions but have never managed to reach the final. They finished third in the 1968 European Championship but only four teams participated in that event. Their best-ever performance was in 1996, in which not only did they play host but went all the way up to the semi-final and lost to eventual champions Germany on penalties. After the heart-break of failing to qualify for the 2008 edition, the Three Lions are back in the competition this time and would surely want to make their presence felt.
England begin the pursuit of their first ever European title against traditional rivals France on June 11, 2012 at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk. They travel to Kiev to play Sweden at the Olympic stadium on June 14, 2012. The stadium, with a capacity of more than 70000 would provide an electrifying atmosphere. Five days later, they play their final group match against first-time hosts Ukraine in what could be described as tricky encounter.
Rio Ferdinand does not find a place in Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad while young Chamberlain is a surprise inclusion. Wayne Rooney is a part of the team despite the fact that he will miss out the first two games through suspension.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, John Ruddy, Robert Green.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Ashley Cole.
Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young.
Strikers: Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.
Wayne Rooney is, without doubt, the most important English player. He has been in scintillating form for his club, Manchester United, this season and finished as the second highest goal-scorer in the premier league. His attacking prowess and goal-scoring ability are well established facts. After a long time, England have found a safe pair of hands in Joe Hart. He is solid as a rock, confident inside the box and hardly makes mistakes.
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Gokul is an avid sports fan and blogger.
Article Source: Gokul_Muthukumaresan