England have been handed what has been described by many as an ‘easy draw’ for qualifying for Euro 2016.
However, no matter who England draws the Three Lions seem to make a meal of qualification, as the likes of Germany and Spain cruise through qualification campaigns.
England have been drawn in a group with Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, San Marino and Lithuania for Euro 2016 qualification.
England’s opponents are not exactly stellar names in European or world football, but neither were Poland or Ukraine and England did not exactly cover themselves in glory against those nations in World Cup qualification.
In truth a national team the size of England should qualify for tournaments with ease. England has some very good players, but at times they flatter to deceive at international level. The England players seem slightly complacent against a lot of the opponents they come up against.
The level of expectations for England at the World Cup this summer are very low, with the team not firing on all cylinders in recent games. England have been handed a tricky draw for the World Cup in Brazil, Roy Hodgson’s side taking on Italy, Uruguay and minnows Costa Rica in the group stage.
The World Cup could be the international last hurrah for many of England’s older players. After these big tournaments a lot of older players decide to finish their international careers and England have a lot of older players in their current squad.
The likes of Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard are all in their thirties and the World Cup could be their last chance at international level.
There could be a lot of younger players appearing in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are just three players that look like they could have bright futures for the national team.
The trio are likely to have a big part to play in the qualifiers and hopefully Roy Hodgson can manage to make use of the next generation of English players currently featuring in the Premier League. The Euro 2016 qualification campaign could give a number of those young players an opportunity to impress on the international stage.
No doubt England does have some very good young players just in need of experience. The Euro 2016 draw has afforded Roy Hodgson the chance to give some of those inexperienced players the invaluable experience on the international stage, without putting too much pressure on them.
Not only has England been handed a comfortable draw, but qualification for Euro 2016 will also be easier. The top two teams from every group will qualify for the new 24 nation format. The best third-placed team automatically qualify for the finals and the other third place teams go into the play-offs.
Even England could not fail to qualify with the new format. It seems more difficult not to qualify than qualify with the expansion of the finals.
Prior to the start of the Euro 2016 qualifiers we of course have the World Cup in Brazil. A lot of what happens at the World Cup will determine what happens in those qualifiers. England boss Roy Hodgson is likely to make changes to his squad after the big event.
I have a feeling that the England squad that features in the qualifiers could be much changed from the World Cup squad. Players will emerge and other players will lose form and drop out of the squad.
England should qualify for Euro 2016 with ease, but their record at major tournaments against their big European rivals is terrible. In a funny way a less difficult draw may well work against the Three Lions.
Favourable draws in qualification campaigns in recent years have given England a false sense of supremacy, so when they come up against a decent opposition they wilt, a perfect example being at Euro 2012 when Italy passed them off the pitch.
Hopefully this qualification group will help Roy Hodgson move the team forward and help find a team capable of competing against the big boys of European football, because in truth England have been underachieving for years.
Is an easy draw for Euro 2016 a good thing for England?