Euro 2012 Tactical Breakdown: What to Expect from England
As the 2012 European Championships creep ever closer, Bleacher Report continues its extensive in-depth coverage of the teams involved.
Here, we will have a look at England in order to ascertain how they'll play, who their key players are and what makes them tick.
Manager Roy Hodgson was really thrown into the deep end here. He was burdened with controversial decisions that had to be made within a very small time frame.
England's warm-up for Euro 2012 produced two 1-0 victories and two clean sheets. A solid start? Results win games, and that's exactly what Hodgson's done so far.
Although the vast majority pined for Harry Redknapp to take the hot seat, the FA considered the candidates carefully and settled on Hodgson as their man for the next four years at least.
Here's how England will likely line up for their first game against France on June 11 at the Donbass Arena.
Shape and tendencies
Hodgson has stayed true to his colours so far, employing a loose 4-4-2 in both his win over Norway in Oslo and his triumph over Belgium at Wembley.
He plays two very flat banks of four and an out-and-out striker accompanied by a second striker in a free role.
Ashley Young has played as a deep striker in both games and he's a sure bet to start. Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker will occupy the two midfield slots while the wide midfield roles are up for grabs.
James Milner looks the favourite on the right, with Stewart Downing and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fighting it out for the left midfield role.
The midfield is required drop deep and help out the defensive line, creating a large gap between the the strikers and middle bank of four.
Whoever plays up front—be it Andy Carroll or Danny Welbeck—will be required to available for a quick release and have the ability and strength to hold the ball up, or break with incisive pace.
Gerrard and Parker will very much play as a midfield pivot—moving up and down parallel to each other and supporting each other at all times.
Best chance of scoring
England look likely to score in two particular ways.
The first is the classic counterattacking football we've come to expect. Against Belgium, the ball was won high up the pitch and Welbeck was released early. He kept his cool and produced a sublime finish—something he has the pace and composure to do during the real tournament.
In a similar vein, Norway saw the damage Young can do when he found himself one-on-one on the run against Brede Hangeland.
The second is a set piece. The Three Lions have the aerial ability to score from a corner or free kick. Carroll, in particular, represents a highly potent threat when the ball is there to be won.
Will they concede?
Despite not having the better of the game against either Norway or Belgium, at no point did England really look like they were in danger of conceding a goal.
It has to said that neither of those teams are offensive powerhouses (neither have a distinctive striker), but it seems like only the most intricate of moves can undo this England defence.
If that is the case, England will be largely OK. The only immediate circumstance they should fear is Olivier Giroud coming on for France if Les Bleus need a goal in the opening game.
Giroud has wonderful ability and can immerse himself amongst a deep defensive line, attracting attention and providing fantastic lay-offs for teammates. He is a difference-maker.
It'll be a tough tournament for England the way Hodgson plays. He asks a lot of his troops and he will be required to make use of his entire squad in order to succeed.
Carroll or Welbeck?
It won't be fun to watch for England fans, but it could be surprisingly effective. France looks an insurmountable task and Ukraine a very tough encounter, but a draw or two with a win against Sweden could see them through the group.
If England qualifies from the group, Hodgson has succeeded this summer.
Check out my other tactical breakdowns here:
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