Final 16 teams: Germany, France, Italy, Hungry, Wales, Croatia; Belgium, Spain, England, Switzerland, Poland, Iceland; Portugal, Slovakia, Northern I, Rep Ireland
There can be no doubt that England manager Roy Hodgson was riding his luck with his bizarre team selection this last week against Slovakia which included unfathomable wholesale changes – this despite his years of preparation, and enormous spend, when now he proudly admits he still doesn’t know his best team, eh?
The bottom line is that we don’t know who will start in the next match, and neither does manager Hodgson (which is a bit disturbing, surely?), but at least we have reached the knockout stage by coming a poor second to Wales in our easy-peasy Group B.
Hodgson can never claim ever again about bad luck, as not only did he get an astonishingly good lucky break, in a very-very-very late win against Wales, but yesterday his prayers were answered when minnows Iceland got a last minute astoundingly shock win to gain second place in Group F. Consequently they will now face mighty England (when it was feared the England’s opponents would be ‘misfiring’ Portugal – who we can’t beat in tournaments, can we?) in the very last knockout match before the quarter finals
The general expectation is that England will absolutely trounce little Iceland, and with the firepower available that is on the cards. Hodgson’s problem is that not only is that the supporters and the FA’s view, but also that of his players – and that could lead to disaster as over confidence & complacency is a killer in football, don’t you think? Psychologically, the underdogs Iceland have nothing to lose, while a major team like England has everything to sacrifice – Iceland will play with confidence and free abandonment while England will undoubtedly play with constraint and griping fear, won’t they? England will need to get an early gaol if they are to show their potential, perhaps?
Not unsurprisingly, all six ‘seeded’ teams have reached the 16 team knockout phase, though Portugal made it by the skin of their teeth didn’t they? Spain & Belgium, like England also underperformed in their Groups – but all six should get into the Quarter finals, as the wild card performing teams will fall away – and then it will get much more difficult, wouldn’t you say?
Either Northern Ireland or Wales will obviously make the Quarters as they play each other in the knockouts – and one has to win!
The truth of the matter is that none of the teams there in France are all that brilliant nor even sound, and many have underperformed so far, hence have massively disappointed their supporters. That is all the more reason though why it would prove unacceptable for England to not reach the final stages while under a supposedly vastly experienced and overrated but overpaid manager with access to a hoard of very talented, if not perhaps World class, players, don’t you think?
However, one has always to hand it to Hodgson for consistently, don’t you think? He always chooses the wrong squad for tournaments by leaving important players behind, then he the always picks the wrong team for the match in hand, whence he always employs the worst possible format and tactical strategy, and completes the full set by failing to resolve matters during the match by not making substitutions, or making substitutions at the worst possible time, or dragging off the performing players to bring on suspect substitutes, eh?
He will, or certainly should, get away with it again next Monday when playing Iceland, but the chips will be down when England reaches the Quarters and have to face-down the likes of hosts France, wouldn’t you say?
[Smart talking Roy Hodgson is a proven loser, but after these Euro’s his time is up surely, particularly if England don’t get to the Semis – then the FA as normal will employ another expensive rubbish loser manager (so there is nothing for English fans to look forward to, is there?)?]