Hi everyone, Danny here checking in from Poland. You can hear my thoughts on Euro 2012 every morning on Sky Sports News Radio.
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Right to the wire
After seeing what has happened so far in this tournament there has been a lot of twists and turns. Even last night went right to the wire with Spain and Italy. One goal would have changed absolutely everything and would have broken hearts. I think it may go that way tonight. It will be a tense affair with the Ukraine having the masssive home advantage which will play a huge part. Hopefully England can be resolute and with Wayne Rooney coming back in, get the point they need.
Don’t be daft Wayne
Roy Hodgson has intimated that Wayne Rooney can inspire the team like Pele did with Brazil – and he is massively important to the team as he adds that spark. I just think he’s got to be careful that he plays for the team and doesn’t try and do too much, get over excited and do something daft.
Welbeck and Rooney?
The rumours are that Danny Welbeck will keep his place – but it wouldn’t surprise me if Roy stuck with Andy Carroll up front as he does offer something different. With Rooney and Welbeck they do have the relationship from Manchester United which will obviously be in Roy’s thinking, but I still think Carroll offers something a little bit different. If he doesn’t start I would expect him to come on. Even if late on to provide extra help for the defence with his aeriel ability.
Go for it to avoid Spain
Can I see England beating Italy? I think possibly yes. Italy are in pretty good form although their domestic football is in complete turmoil. The Italians are shrewd and I think they have a decent chance of doing something in this tournament – but I could see England beating them.
Can I see England beating Spain? I don’t think so, I think Spain will raise their game just that little bit and the Wembley defeat will be haunting them in the back of their minds and they will want to get revenge over England. Spain haven’t lost many games in tournaments or friendlies so the Spanish will want to readdress that balance. I think Spain will be the tougher game but I don’t think Spain will fancy playing England, especially after the Barcelona/Chelsea game and they’ve seen how resolute the English teams can be. Even last night Croatia frustrated them at times, while Italy played exceptionally well against the Spanish. The only trouble against Spain and I think Italy proved this is you only probably get a maximum of five good chances in the game and you have to take one of those, if you don’t they’re likely to punish you.
We haven’t got an abundance of creative attacking midfield players so the Ukraine coming onto us will suit our style of play. We can sit back, be organised, be defensive, respect the opposition and play on the break. If we get the ball forward to Rooney, Young and Welbeck they have lots of pace and I think that style of play will suit England. They must be careful they don’t get sucked into the trap of sitting too deep and then not being able to get out. Thats why I thought Carroll may start because they can hit the ball up to him, he can hold it up and get England further up the pitch just like he did in some parts of the game against Sweden. Going to play for a draw is never easy.
As the game goes on that will become more and more apparent if the game is still level. England will start to sit deeper and deeper and that’s where they need the real leaders in the team, the likes of John Terry and Steven Gerrard, to say ‘Come on lads, this is not right, let’s get in their half and play in their half’. If England are playing in the Ukraine’s half, they can’t score – simple as that.
Stick with Milner
I still think James Milner will be the safe option on the right flank. You need to draw the game, and with Milner you know what you are going to get. He’s going to be solid and he’ll work hard for the team. Theo Walcott could be a 9 out of 10 or he could be a 4 out of 10 and you’re not quite sure what that’s going to be and that’s the difficult decision for Hodgson. Does he go with someone who can be brilliant or poor? Or does he go with the ‘steady eddie’ type player in James Milner? I think he might go with Milner. He’s going to have to make at least one change to accomodate Rooney and I’m sure he won’t want to overly disrupt the team too much for this one game.
England squad together
People are reasonably pleased with England have performed so far. The fact expectations were a little bit lower than usual have really helped. I think Roy has handled things very well. We know the performance against Sweden wasn’t the best, but the players played as a team, played for the shirt, showed heart, showed desire and showed a real appetite to get back into the game.
I think that pleased the fans, pleased the media – and there seems to be a togetherness within the England camp.