I’m currently out in Poland for the Euros, but I’ll be keeping a diary to keep you bang up to speed with the inside track at the tournament.
Star Wars bar
We arrived quite late in Gdansk on Saturday night and got into our hotel which is adequate. We were told by one of the other commentators that Gdansk is a city of ‘culture’, but unfortunately we ended up in a place called ‘Barbados’ – which was a liitle bit like the ‘Star Wars bar’.
It was a little bit odd, but after an early morning run I’m back feeling recharged and looking forward to some more cracking games.
My pre-tournament favourites were Holland, but after Saturday they’ve been rocked somewhat. But Spain did lose their opening fixture at the 2010 World Cup and still went on to win it, so all is not lost.
Spain, though, look strong and face Italy on Sunday. Any team that has the likes of David Silva, Xavi and Andres Iniesta is going to be a force. And when you look at the players they have got on the bench – and they could have Fernando Llorente, Juan Mata and Cesc Fabregas – then you know what a good side they are.
However, it won’t be easy against Italy.
They have lost their last three friendlies, but they had a fantastic qualifying campaign and there have been rumours that Italy could change formation.
They could switch to a 3-5-2 – which would be a bold decision in the first game of the tournament. And of course the last time they were hit by scandal in 2006, they went on to win the World Cup.
But if Italy get their heads right, they can be a force to be reckoned with, because they have exceptional defensive qualities. Juventus went the whole season unbeaten and Andrea Pirlo being fit will be a huge plus. I think they could be an outside bet.
England’s biggest problem…
I think the England players will be going in style from Poland to Ukraine so the travelling issue is no big deal. They will probably train in the stadium late on Sunday in preparation for Monday’s opener against France.
Looking at all the reports I think Roy Hodgson will go into the game in a cautious manner. I expect James Milner and Stewart Downing to play and it will be a cagey start.
France are a good side and a draw would be a good result for England. It is very important not to lose your first game in these competitions.
If England are going to set up defensively, then they have to have a plan B because if they do concede they need to be able to go a little bit more attack minded.
We could well play the same style that Portugal did in their 1-0 defeat to Germany. Despite defeat Portugal played well and created chances and England will be hoping for a similar performance.
England’s biggest problem though will be scoring goals, that is going to be a major issue. Defensively we will be strong and solid and I’m happy with that, but are we going to find enough goals to win the tournament? I don’t think so.
But if we can get Steven Gerrard in form and we get Wayne Rooney back then there is a chance we can get to the quarter-final or semi-final even.
The Irish have a fanstastic team spirit and they have got some good players.
It will not be easy, but if they can get off to a good start they could get through their group. They are an outside chance, but they will be organised and Giovanni Trapattoni has done a good job and they will be well supported.
Give my thoughts a read and let me know what you think in the comments box below – Danny.