Euro 2012: 5 Things England Learned from France Draw
So, England finally started their Euro 2012 campaign with a 1-1 draw in the opening game. I think most people will be fairly satisfied to have nicked a point off a very good French side. England must now look to get their first win on the board when they face Sweden on Friday, June 15.
But before that, we need have a quick review of things from Monday night.
It Was a Decent Containment Job
France have some truly great attacking players, but England did a fine job in keeping them fairly quiet. Joe Hart will have been disappointed to let Samir Nasri's shot get past him, but it was quite an achievement to restrict France to just one goal.
Roy Hodgson is using all of his managerial experience to keep England tight and organized—qualities that will need to shown in abundance for England to continue to progress at Euro 2012.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Can Be a Wild-Card Pick for England
The early evidence suggests that Hodgson will look to play a fairly defensive game of containment at Euro 2012. Therefore, it will be important that England are able to counterattack quickly.
One of the major weapons they may have to do this is Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Arsenal teenager was a surprise selection against France, but he is raw, pacy and hugely talented. I think he also has the added advantage of being a player that England's opponents may not know a huge amount about. After all, last season was his first playing Premier League football.
Can England Really Expect to Keep Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard Fit?
The experienced core of Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker has the potential to serve England well in this tournament. However, the big worry is that both players have some fitness doubts on them, and if one was to get injured, who would England call on?
Jordan Henderson seems to be first in line, but there are plenty of people that feel he shouldn't even be in the squad. Otherwise you are looking at someone like Phil Jones, who has played a handful of games there for Manchester United.
England's chances of progression may depend on keeping these two key midfielders fit.
England Must Be Clinical
That chance for James Milner in the first half of the match is the sort of chance you have to take at international level.
This is especially the case if England's tactics continue in future games; if you have few chances, then you must take them when they come your way.
Will the Defensive System Work in Every Game?
I think most of us understand that England will be outpassed by the top nations at Euro 2012. But this doesn't mean that sitting back and looking to catch teams on the break will always work.
England will need to get the balance right between attack and defense; playing a game too extreme in either direction is destined to fail.
It will be interesting to see how England approach Friday's game against Sweden, but I feel the team will need to show a greater attacking intent. It is difficult to imagine that three draws will be enough to get through the group.