This afternoon we continue our analysis of the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine by turning our attentions to Group D. First up under the microscope, then, is England:
Roy Hodgson’s side kick off the group with, arguably, the toughest of their three fixtures, as they square up to France at 5pm on Monday June 11. Next up for England is a showdown with Sweden four days later at 7.45pm on Friday June 15 before they face tournament co-hosts Ukraine on Tuesday June 19, at 7.45pm.
With Fabio Capello walking away after the John Terry captaincy controversy, it’s fair to say England haven’t had the best of build-ups. In one way, this could work to their advantage, though, with no real hype or expectations of silverware heaped upon their shoulders. Nevertheless, they are still favoured to make the last eight, though France will be confident in their own abilities, having topped their qualifying group after just one loss in 10 games. Sweden, meanwhile, also progressed automatically courtesy of finishing as the best runner-up, with 24 points accrued over 10 matches, while Ukraine will be hoping home advantage can help them advance to the knock-out stages.
The Road to Qualification
Under Capello, England comfortably sailed through their qualifying group, leaving Montenegro six points behind in second place. Racking up a total of 17 goals, they scored twice or more in six of their eight matches, while at the back they conceded just five goals, chalking up a clean sheet on five of those occasions.
Most Appearances: Hart & Cole (8), Rooney & Young (7), Barry & Milner (6)
Top Goalscorers: Rooney, Young & Defoe (3), Lampard & A Johnson (2)
Top Assists: Rooney & Young (3)
The Likely Lads
With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first couple of games, Ashley Young looks set to continue the role as a second striker handed to him by Hodgson in the 1-0 friendly win over Norway. The United winger was joint-top for goals and assists with Rooney in qualifying and netted the winner against the Norwegians, with a coolly taken finish. Priced at 8.5 in the McDonald’s game, he’s cheaper only than Rooney for England but, with an out-of-position role likely for those couple of matches before a likely move to the flank in the third group match, he offers more potential than most amongst Hodgson’s attacking charges.
Faced with back-to-back duels against Karim Benzema, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andrei Shevchenko, John Terry is afforded the perfect opportunity to silence the critics and help steer his country through the group stages. Hodgson’s side is clearly a work in progress and, with the former West Brom boss set to favour a more pragmatic approach, much will depend on England’s ability to nullify their opponents’ danger. Priced at 6.5m, Terry arrives in strong goalscoring form, having netted six times for Chelsea in the previous domestic campaign and his resilience at the back should see him benefit from the recovered balls rule.
Steven Gerrard is likely to be one of the first names on Hodgson’s team sheet. Priced at 8.5, he has picked up 8.4% of owners so far and as the midfield withdrawals continue on an almost-daily basis, the new skipper’s influence will be more crucial than ever. Looking at Hodgson’s likely first-choice line-up, the Liverpool man seems the best bet to be handed set-pieces and, in the absence of Rooney, any possible spot-kicks which may come his nation’s way.
Having been handed a late call-up by the new man in charge, Andy Carroll looks to have earned Hodgson’s faith after a strong end to the domestic campaign. Whether he can remain in the starting XI when Rooney’s ban ends prior to the final group game against Ukraine is another matter entirely but, after impressing and providing the assist for Young against the Norwegians, the 7.5 priced forward looks in the driving seat for a role up front for those first couple of games, at least.
For those Fantasy managers currently looking for a cheaper route than Terry into the England backline, Joe Hart seems the safest bet. The City stopper is nailed-on between the posts and, with a price of 6.0, will also benefit from the extra save points. There are, however, a couple of options aside from Hart but both look far from certain; Joleon Lescott is priced at 5.5 but it’s debatable as to whether he or Gary Cahill (6.0) will partner Terry in the heart of defence. With the Chelsea contingent rested against Norway, Lescott was named in the starting XI but with a friendly against Belgium still to come tomorrow, Hodgson’s thinking will hopefully be made a little clearer for Fantasy managers prior to the France game. Phil Jones is also priced at 5.5 and could well be part of the back-four if Glen Johnson fails to recover from a toe problem.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I love to attack and I love to go up front...It is a little more difficult than when you are playing centre-back. If you play the way that I want to play, I think my influence is better as a left-back. For the team, it is best that I play as a centre-back. I like to bring the ball out. You need to move the game quickly, and that is one of my qualities as well.”Jan Vertonghen outlines what he feels is his best position for Andre Villas-Boas