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Euro 2016: England fact file

THREE LIONS: England at the Etihad Stadium.

THREE LIONS: England at the Etihad Stadium.

England arrive at Euro 2016 without the crushing weight of expectation previous generations have struggled under.

20 years on from the summer when football came home, can Roy Hodgson’s young Lions prove to be the competition’s surprise package?

The Group

Group B: England, Russia, Wales, Slovakia

Lower expectations, perhaps, but England’s supporters would be deeply unhappy with anything less than qualification from Group B.

That said, Russia have improved under new boss Leonid Slutsky, Wales will need no extra motivation to put one over on their local rivals, while Slovakia beat Germany 3-1 in a warm-up friendly, proving that they’ll be no pushovers.

It’s fair to say that England could have been handed an easier group but they should, at the very least, make the Last 16.

EURO 2012: England got to the quarter finals last time out

City representatives

Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling

With Fabian Delph placed on the standby list following a groin injury, City’s England quota went down to two when the final 23 was made.

Joe Hart is a dead cert to start and Raheem Sterling may just have done enough to play his way into the line-up for the opener against Russia on Saturday, following a good run of form in the recent friendlies.

Raheem has produced three assists for his country in his last two internationals.

RAHEEM'S DREAM: Sterling to start against Russia?

They say

Hart: "I'd be watching it as a huge England fan if I wasn't involved. I've got one of those lucky spots where I might even be potentially representing my country on Saturday in a European tournament, so I'm going to enjoy it.

“I love playing football, I love being around guys that want to play football - that's a really good thing about this squad and we're enjoying each other as a unit. The only way we're ultimately going to enjoy this tournament is success so, like I say, that starts Saturday."

Key Player

Eric Dier

England are blessed with a number of dynamic attacking options but there are question marks over the side’s defensive capabilities.

For that reason, Tottenham’s Eric Dier could be an important presence at the base of midfield, especially if England go deep in the tournament and come up against a team with attacking intentions of their own.

THREE LIONS: Dier and Vardy two of the Premier League's best players in 2015/16

The Coach

Roy Hodgson

Hodgson has done a lot to subvert suggestions that he was a safety-first pragmatist in the build-up to this tournament, bringing in a number of young players and experimenting with a variety of systems.

In the past it’s been levelled at England that they’re a team of individuals rather than a collective but that’s an accusation that can be levelled at this crop and that’s in a large part down to the manager.

ROY'S BOYS: England boss in Chantilly

How they got there

England sailed through their Euro 2016 qualifying group with a perfect ten out of ten record, scoring 31 goals and conceding just three.

Switzerland were supposed to provide the Three Lions with their biggest test in Group E but England made light work of them at home and away.


Predicted XI

Hart, Clyne, Smalling, Cahill, Rose, Dier, Wilshere, Sterling, Alli, Rooney, Kane


Why they’ll win

The performance against Germany in the 3-2 win in Berlin hinted at a team of fearless young men with no respect for reputations, able to play as a functioning, balanced team imbued with self-belief and a never-say-die attitude.

If they can bring this club-style mentality to this summer’s tournament, they could replicate the achievements of 20 years ago… or even better.

LION HART: Joe is England's undisputed no.1.

Why they might not

Penalty shootouts still exist. That, and there's a sense that England have been stronger in the centre of defence in tournaments gone by.

Schedule

Saturday 11 June: England v Russia, 8pm

Thursday 16 June: England v Wales, 2pm

Monday 20 June: Slovakia v England, 8pm

Betsafe odds to win outright

11-1




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