England in Euro 2012: Six Winners and Losers from the Draw vs. France
England got their Euro 2012 campaign off to a fair start with a 1-1 draw against group favourites France, doing their chances of qualifying for the knock-out stages no harm at all in Donetsk.
On a day when the most obvious value was the team ethic, there were nevertheless some individual winners and losers for England.
Roy Hodgson was satisfied with the point gained in his first competitive match in charge of the nation, having only taken over a few weeks before the start of the European Championships.
Here are the six winners and losers from England's draw.
Winner: Roy Hodgson
What does Roy Hodgson do well?
He organises teams, he gets them compact in defence, working hard and above all else, he manages and dampens expectations.
England pretty much did that for themselves this time by parting company with Fabio Capello just a little while before Euro 2012 kicked off, and Hodgson has been in no mood to make expectations soar again unnecessarily.
As a result, nobody was overly disappointed at picking up a sole point against the French and the England camp remain in largely good spirits, having failed to win the opening European Championships match yet again.
Loser: Ashley Young
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Ashley Young played...okay.
He had one or two good moments on the ball where he won England free kicks to relieve the pressure, and played one very good through ball to James Milner—who should have scored—but that was about it.
Young's work down the channels wasn't overly impressive, he didn't drop deep to pick up possession or support his central midfielders and he certainly didn't get beyond Danny Welbeck very often.
Not that he'll have too many worries about not starting the next match; Hodgson has obviously decided that while Wayne Rooney is missing, then Young is the man to play the link role, but he needs to perform better than this.
Winner: Joleon Lescott
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Joleon Lescott scored his first ever international goal against France in a European Championships group stage match, and that alone is pretty much enough for him to be remembered in this game.
However, Lescott—and his partner Terry—was largely dominant in the air at the back, stood firm to organise the defence and hold the line against fairly consistent waves of France attacks, and generally looked confident for one of the first times at international level.
His and Terry's partnership will be key to any hopes of success that England have, so this was a good first step for the duo and for Lescott in particular who was winning just his 17th cap, despite his age, at 29 years.
Loser: Andy Carroll
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Andy Carroll must have thought his luck was in when Roy Hodgson handed him the No.9 shirt in England's Euro 2012 squad, but for the first game in Ukraine/Poland, the boss instead selected Danny Welbeck to play up front in the absence of Wayne Rooney.
Worse, when it came time to make an attacking substitution Hodgson threw on Jermaine Defoe instead of the Liverpool forward—and then Theo Walcott as well to play centrally for the final minutes of the game.
Nothing is to say that Carroll won't be involved going forward, but he will certainly have hoped that he wouldn't be the last forward to be involved.
Winner: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
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The 18-year-old Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found out just a few hours before kick off that he was starting in arguably the biggest game of his fledgling career.
Chosen to play left midfield ahead of the likes of Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing, Oxlade-Chamberlain was a good outlet for England on the break and showed both a willingness to run with the ball at his feet and also demonstrated a hard-working ethic to offer cover to Ashley Cole when England were without the ball.
It was thought that "the Ox" would be England's secret weapon for the latter stages of games—but he put in a decent performance, one rash challenge aside which earned him a yellow card, and will be hopeful of getting another starting spot for the next match against Sweden.
Winner or Loser? England
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Only time will tell whether this point gained against France will turn out to be a good one, or if ultimately England might have been better off risking a little bit more in attack to try and get the three points.
Ukraine's victory over Sweden means that even if the joint-hosts are beaten by France in the next round of games, they can go into the final round of matches knowing that they can qualify if they beat England.
For England's part, if they beat Sweden in the next game, then a simple draw against Ukraine will be enough.
As mentioned, England aren't disheartened by their point against France—but there might also be a small nagging feeling in the backs of their minds that, had they been a little more adventurous and a bit more clever with the final pass, they might be sitting top of Group D tonight, with France having it all to do.