Patrick Wiseman Assesses England’s potential opponents from Group F and our chances against them.
Roy Hodgson’s tactical stupidity has left England second in Group B, with Wales securing top spot. Despite the fact that we only needed to beat Slovakia, England couldn’t even manage that, as some inspired defending and disgraceful England attacking meant the game turned into 90 minutes I’ll never get back, as England laboured to a 0-0 draw, whilst Wales destroyed Russia 3-0 – A feat we couldn’t even manage ourselves. All the hard work from England vs Wales undone, leaving Wales with a favourable draw, and England potentially staring at an exit from the Euros, as we face off against the winner from Group F.
With that in mind here I assess England’s potential opponents in the last 16, and our chances against them. With the last game of group F still to be played, and it being so tight, all four teams are possible opponents. Although I will say this – if he plays the same team as against Slovakia, this article is almost meaningless, tell the pilot to warm up the plane!
Portugal – they might as well be named the Cristiano Ronaldo XI as without him they are decidedly toothless, as proved by their performance when they lost to England in the pre-Euros warm-up. However, even with their star man they have struggled thus far. Ronaldo has looked a fraction of his usual self – maybe that Nike advert was real! If, however Portugal top the group, we shall have to face them, and if they turn up and we let our guard down it could get very messy. You can never take playing a team with a player such as Ronaldo for granted, whether off-form or on-form, as the mere presence of someone like him changes the game completely. England will have to step up, turn up, and Roy will have to pick a working XI, but if we do that we should have a good chance of progressing.
Hungary – I’m not too sure about Hungary. They’ve been good from what I’ve seen, and their sheer persistence was enough for them to secure a last-gasp draw against Iceland, the minnows of group F. They could still top the group, and England would do well to understand that whoever tops the group, big or small, shouldn’t be taken for granted, and they’ve earned it. We turn up and we can beat them, failure to do so could see a long and hard 90 minutes, and possibly even more, as the game could potentially go all the way to penalties, where England are notoriously bad.
Iceland – special mention to them, for a nation that has a population of less than 400,000 they have been simply brilliant. They have shown themselves as capable and more than up for it, and if they manage to top the group we cannot relax at all. They have proven that they shouldn’t be underestimated, and I have a bad feeling that if we get them we will believe we just have to turn up to win. However, should we take them seriously I can see us beating them and progressing.
Austria – they’ve been OK from what I’ve seen, but they have some good players, David Alaba the most well-known. They haven’t been that good going forward, but regardless England will need to be on their guard against them. Again we will need to turn up to win.
Regardless of who we face in the last 16, we will need to get our tactics, team selection and mentality all right in order to win. Should we do that, we have a real chance of progressing to the next round.
One final point, congratulations to Northern Ireland on qualifying for the knockouts and good luck for the rest of the tournament!