So England finished as runners-up a mediocre group at Group 2016. What a shock Three Lions do not perform at major championship!
England failed to find a way past a stubborn Slovakia team and drew 0-0 with Jan Kozak’s men.
Slovakia defended well for the 90 minutes, with Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel putting in a very good display. However, if England are to make the latter stages of the competition they need to find a way to unlock stubborn defences.
Wales managed to put two past Slovakia and three past Russia, but fair play to Chris Coleman’s side they have showed passion, commitment and above a killer touch in their games that England have lacked for much of the tournament.
The Welsh have been superb and showed England how a top team should be performing in the group, even if the Dragons did slip-up against their neighbours on game week two.
England cannot close games out
Some England fans will claim that the Three Lions have bossed all three group games, but this was against Russia, Wales and Slovakia. It was not like they were drawn against world beating teams. These are decent teams do not get me wrong, but these are teams that any self-respected contender would beat.
England dominated possession against Russia and it all looked to be coming to a rightful, solid conclusion of Roy Hodgson’s side claiming a victory. An undeserved equaliser from Russia spoilt that, but that result was caused by a complete lack of football intelligence, from both the pitch and the bench.
Would Italy, France, Spain or Germany have conceded in the same manner? Probably not, because they would have employed every trick in the book to waste time and generally reduced the opportunities for the opposition.
They would have had the ball in the corner flag, they would have been throwing themselves on the floor with every tackle from the opposition and they would have closed the game out, collected the points and moved on. Not England though.
The question marks about the suspect defence rared their ugly head, as Hodgson’s side conceded a goal which has now basically decided the group.
Finding a way through
Considering Roy Hodgson was supposed to have named an attacking squad, the amount of clear-cut chances the Three Lions have had in France has not been high in number. There have been lots of long shots on goal and huffing and puffing.
Against Slovakia I can remember England having three clear-cut chances. Jamie Vardy was denied by the ‘keeper in the first half, Nathaniel Clyne had an effort tipped wide and Dele Alli saw an effort cleared near the line by Skrtel.
There may have been others, but it’s not like the Three Lions have peppered the Slovakia goal with brilliant efforts and their ‘keeper Matus Kozacik has had the game of his life. Quite simply the England attack did have the guile to find a way past a mediocre but well-drilled team.
Some people will say well other big teams have had problems breaking teams down in France. Well the difference is that they did find a way past their opponents. France, Spain and Italy have all scored late goals and likely won their groups.
The difference is they found a way through and that is the difference between England and the big football nations at Euro 2016, they find a way through and that is why the Three Lions will fail to reach the latter stages of the competition.
Still time to improve
Roy Hodgson made changes to his team for Slovakia and they did not pay-off. However the Three Lions are through to the last 16 and there is still time to improve. The potential opponents of Portugal, Hungary, Iceland and Austria do not look like a daunting prospect.
Finishing second means meeting the team that finishes second in Group F, which has been by far the most open group in France.
None of the quartet from Group F have been that impressive and England would fancy their chances against any of them at the moment. The Three Lions are currently odds of 6/5 to make it to the quarter-finals stages, which suggest the bookies fancy Hodgson’s side to make it to the last eight of the competition.
However, judging by their three performances at Euro 2016 so far it is hard to believe that the current England team could go beyond the last eight, especially with hosts France as a potential quarter-final opponent. They just do not seem to have the same footballing nous as a lot of their rivals in France and in unfortunately it will show in the end.
How far will England go at Euro 2016?