In June and July, the international heavyweights of European football visit Poland and Ukraine for the European Championships. England will head to the tournament with limited expectations following their disastrous performance in South Africa and Capello’s sudden resignation.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson has received mixed reviews, with the public believing Harry Redknapp as the ideal choice, but his wealth of experience makes him a stronger candidate. Hodgson has been in management for 36 years and boasts previous international experience, leading Switzerland to third in the FIFA World rankings in the 1990s. Although Hodgson had a tough time at Liverpool, he has been awarded the League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year.
Hodgson will select his provisional squad tomorrow, and has to decide whether to risk picking a youthful squad, or choose to stick with experience. The limited expectations could work in his favour in this regard, as he could take mostly young players with less risk of a backlash. England’s group could prove to be difficult though, with France, Sweden and Ukraine awaiting them in Eastern Europe. Therefore, qualifying from the group, although expected, could be seen by some as a success.
Elsewhere, Spain will be looking to win an unprecedented trio of consecutive trophies. Yet with an unreliable Fernando Torres, and David Villa and Carles Puyol likely to miss out due to injury, this isn’t guaranteed. Holland and Germany have been in outstanding form since the 2010 World Cup and if all three teams perform to their best, Euro 2012 could be particularly exciting.
Group B, Euro 2012’s “group of death”, with Holland, Germany and Portugal offering some standout fixtures in the tournament’s early stages. The Republic of Ireland are take part in their first major tournament since 2002 but face a tough time, with ties against Spain, Italy and Croatia.
With many teams capable of winning the tournament, coupled with a lucky run of results, like Greece in 2004, any team could be in with a chance of victory, providing an enthralling few weeks of football.