Why England might just do it at Euro 2016
50 years on from England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, the Three Lions came into Euro 2016 buoyant from a perfect qualifying campaign, victorious in all 10 fixtures.
As always with the national team, there’s a sense of optimism lined with a cynicism so deep, it could make the most patriotic Englander rip the St George’s Cross from their car windows.
However, there’s something about this team, a character, an energy and youthfulness that has charmed the public.
It’s been long enough without anything to cheer, and there is definite cause for optimism this summer. With England heading into the business end of the tournament, we look at why 2016 will be the year the Three Lions end their baron half-decade.
For the first time since Euro 2000, England head to an international tournament with two strikers who have registered 20-plus Premier League goals this season.
These marksmen come in the form of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who both boast inspirational stories. Three years ago, Kane was coming off the back of loans spells at Norwich City and Leicester City – scoring a total of two goals. Fast forward a few years, and he has won the league’s Golden Boot and guided Tottenham to their highest ever Premier League finish.
From non-league to top of the league, the Vardy journey has had ups, downs, and a Premier League crown. His story is an amazing tale and was topped off with Leicester winning the title.
Of course, not to forget boy wonder Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United star scored on his international debut against Australia, becoming the youngest Englishman to score in any first match for the three lions, and was pivotal in Roy Hodgson’s men collecting three points off Wales.
If you sit down, fill out the boxes and actually work out who England are likely to face in the elimination stages, it looks as though the stars have aligned and the Three Lions have got a clear path to at least the semis.
It is easy look back at past failures and make excuses, but it is fair comment to say that the draws have been unkind to England over the years.
The Euro 2016 quarter-finals could see a rematch between against Italy, the last time out the Italians ran riot and won 2-1 deep in the Amazon.
At the previous two European Championships England have been part of, they have been hurled out at the last eight stage. However, with two years of development under their belts and emergence of star talent, who knows what Roy’s boys can do.
Year of the underdog
If Claudio Ranieri’s high-flying Foxes can do it, surely England can?
The bookies’ odds suggest Roy’s boys are not quite the same level of outsider Leicester were at the start of their unprecedented title charge, but they’ve laid the groundwork.
Where once clichés about belief, desire and good old English grit stood, now stands genuine hope that the cloud hovering over English international football could lift. England are not the best footballing nation in France, but Leicester have shown anything is possible.
Hart’s penalty record
Joe Hart probably didn’t know what Andrea Pirlo was thinking before the Panenka at Euro 2012, but since then, the Manchester City stopper has recorded high profile penalty stops from Lionel Messi, Frank Lampard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to name just three.
Despite having hands like a cat flap against Gareth Bale’s long distance free kick in England’s second group game, the keeper has an outstanding record when it comes to saving penalties since Euro 2012.
Hart has saved five of 11 penalties in the Premier and Champions League since then. If England are ever going to get over their penalty curse, they need the goalkeeper to take his superb penalty form into the elimination stages.
What do you think? Can England go ahead and win the Euros? Put your money where your mouth is and stick a bet on through Cashbacker. Don’t worry though, if we don’t quite pull through, at least you’ll bag some cashback!