I gave my reaction to England’s roster last week. I’m going to go out of order for one day and post my team preview of England with their full roster. Will resume with the other Group A teams tomorrow and this weekend.
FIFA Ranking: 7
Euro History: The tournament hasn’t been kind to the Three Lions. They made the semifinals in 1968 and 1996. The 1996 Euro was heartbreaking because England was the host and they lost in penalty kicks to Germany at Wembley. England failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
How they qualified: England topped Group G in qualifying by going undefeated in a pool with Montenegro, Switzerland, Wales and Bulgaria. England won five matches are drew the other three.
Group information and schedule: England is in Group D with France, Sweden and Ukraine. All three group matches will be played in Ukraine.
June 11 vs. France in Donetsk
June 15 vs. Sweden in Kiev
June 19 vs. Ukraine in Donetsk
The players and roster thoughts: England coach Roy Hodgson was named as manager on May 1, 2012. He replaced Fabio Capello, who guided England through their qualifying campaign. Hodgson named the 23-man England squad on May 16.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich)
The goalkeepers were no surprise. Joe Hart will start in his first major tournament for England, and is the long-term answer between the pipes. The last time Robert Green played in a major tournament turned into a career nightmare as he botched a Clint Dempsey shot in the first game of the 2010 World Cup.
Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton)
The back line for England has a strong Chelsea influence. The trio of John Terry, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole has had several bright spots recently including their play in the Champions League. Terry did have a moment of stupidity in the second leg of the semifinals and was sent off, but his team beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final. The three could make up 75 percent of the England starting defense. Glen Johnson will most likely start at right back, but youngster Phil Jones could push Johnson for a starting spot. The major exclusion from the squad at defense is former captain Rio Ferdinand. He has battled injuries in the past and Joleon Lescott was preferred as a backup center back.
Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Manchester United), James Milner (Manchester City)
The midfield has usual suspects and fresh face. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was selected despite not playing much at Arsenal this season. Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, has impressed when given the opportunity. Theo Walcott is back in an international tournament after his surprise exclusion from the 2010 World Cup team. Steven Gerrard was named captain of the team. If England decides to play with two holding midfielders, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Scott Parker will be in contention to start in this role. Aaron Lennon and Adam Johnson are the top midfield snubs.
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool)
The strikers are interesting because the best player is suspended for the first two games. Wayne Rooney received a red card in the last game of qualifying against Montenegro, and after winning an appeal his original three game suspension became two. When Rooney is gone, who will score for England? Carroll and Defoe have struggled in the EPL season and haven’t had many opportunities to start for their clubs. This leaves Danny Welbeck, 21, as England’s best bet to start the first game of Euro 2012 if healthy.
How they will do: England is satisfied that they are in a group with Ukraine instead of Spain or Netherlands, who were in Pot 1 during the Euro draw with the two host countries. England has recent international experience against Sweden in the 2006 World Cup. France has rebounded as a national team from their 2010 World Cup embarrassment. England has the talent to win this group, but could struggle to score without Rooney for two matches.