Another international competition with an inevitable sending off, penalty shootout failure and questionable goalkeeping... Not this time.
So, here we are again. Another international competition to build us up to an inevitable sending off, penalty shootout failure and questionable goalkeeping.
Wrong. Not this time.
Here is the definitive analysis of why England will win Euro 2012.
Parker and Gerrard celebrate a famous victory at the Olympic Stadium in Ukraine
So why am I so confident of England's glory?
Let's start at the back. Joe Hart - The greatest English keeper since Peter Shilton, or, dare I say, Gordon Banks. In fact, the whole of England's defensive line should be full of confidence. We have Hart, Lescott (Man City, Premier League Winners), Terry, A Cole, Cahill (Chelsea, Champions League Winners) and G Johnson (Liverpool, League Cup Winner). Okay, we have had winners in the defence before, but these winners were extra special. They carried luck, defied the odds and BELIEVED.
We all know Man City have waited a long time to win the league, and to win it the way they did was incredible (I am a Man Utd fan, so lets move on swiftly). Chelsea's heroics in the Champions League should inspire England to win against all odds. It's likely England will have to play in a similar way to Chelsea if they are to progress in this tournament. The defence will have to be strong. From the two pre-tournament matches England have conceeded no goals. Granted this was against Norway and Belgium, but the results stand as legitimately as any other match. The match against France is one of the most important of the whole compeition for England. Not only does it get some points on the board and an early confidence boost. It sends out a message to the rest of the teams that we are serious about winning.
England will reach the quarter final. Even if they fall to the feet of France in that all important game, the Sweden and Ukraine games will ensure England progress and redeem themselves. Then the daunting challenge of Spain or Italy awaits (or perhaps Croatia on an outside chance). England can beat Spain. laugh all you will. Read it again. England can beat Spain. If the English players believe that, they are half way there. Before the Belgium match today you may have noticed all of the English players sang the national anthem. This is the kind of passion needed. These players want to play for England. They want to win. Back to the point, this is one match. It's Chelsea Vs Bayern. Soak up pressure and take your few chances and you win. If you don't conceed, you don't lose. It's as simple as that (Unless it goes to penalties, but we'll come to that later).
So England have now destroyed one of the greatest European teams from the past few years, either Spain or Italy. England's Semi-Final is against Germany, Holland or maybe even Portgual. There are some bad feelings remaining between England and both Germany and Portgual. I have spent many-a-night considering what would have happened if Lampard's "goal" would have stood against Germany. As I did with Campbell's "goal" against Argentina in 98:
Lampard scores against Germany in 2010, Sol Campbell celebrates against Argentina in 1998.
Why am I bringing up these painful memories? It's our turn for some luck. Whether we get a goal that shouldn't stand or a goal is disallowed against us. I don't believe in karma as such, but you can't argue with maths or logic. If you flip a coin enough times it will land on tails, and with it looking like England will be doing a lot of defending this raises the chances such an incident will happen in our penalty area rather than the opposition.
It's the semi-final. England have held an outstanding German team to 0-0 until the 79th minute when Ozil is hacked down in the area. The referee blows and England hearts drop...
Ozil receives a second yellow for diving and is sent for an early bath. The Germans are furious. Replays show Cahill didn't get anything on the ball. Then, suddenly England are on the attack, Young whips the ball across, there's bodies piled in the box and Parker fumbles the ball across the line. Germany fall apart in arguement with only a few minutes remaining and England win the match 1-0.
That is fantasy of course, but in football anything can happen and hopefully you got a little bit carried away for a split second there and believed it could happen. With a bit of luck in the quarter and semi final, suddenly England face a final against (I reckon) the Netherlands. In my opinion they are the strongest attacking team in the tournament, which will get them to the final, however Holland's defence isn't that great. If England can maintain Holland this could either be 0-0 or 4-4. Maybe it could go all the way to penalties...
David Batty ruins my childhood with a miss against Argentina, Southgate casually backpasses the ball to the German keeper.
I'm going to pull the same card with penalties. It's our turn to win. Logic and chance show it is time the coin landed in England's favour. Now disregard luck for a second. We have Joe Hart in goal. He will save 2 penalties out of 5. Minimum. Not only will he save them. He'll score too. - Do a quick YouTube search if you're not convinced. Hart is the main reason England will do so well. The other players will need to pull their weight too and we will need that bit of luck to go for instead of against us for a change...
Those pictures bring me nicely on to the subject of Rooney. He is overrated and a liability. The opening two games will be a breath of fresh air and will hopefully result in Welbeck netting a couple of goals leaving Rooney rooted to the bench. England as a whole would be a better team without him. Keeping the ball will be incredibly important, and I'm sorry to break it to those 99% of fans that listen to the commentator with their eyes closed, but Rooney loses the ball 90% of the time he gets it. It has almost become an obsession of mine to watch Rooney's input to a game. He has been incredibly fortunate that the media have bulled him up so much in the desperation for an English Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, etc. Gazza was our closest player to this and no one else has come close since then. It is too late for Rooney but the other players need to realise this. To win they have to play as a team and with the fans. Forget the media are there or we will get another Beckham or Rooney incident to throw the game.
To break it down here are the reasons England will win:
1. Joe Hart
2. Luck - it's our turn
3. Penalties - It's our turn
4. An English manager - Capello never cared enough to win. Sven was half-hearted. Come on Woy!
5. Rooney's absence - TEAM England
6. Winning defenders with luck on their side
7. One-chance attackers - Young, Welbeck, Walcott... ah, what the hell, maybe even Rooney.
8. Spain are overcooked
9. Italy are too old
10. Holland can't defend
11. We will beat Portgual in the next meeting
12. We owe Germany a stuffing
13. France will revolt against each other
I'm going to leave that nicely at 13. We have had all the bad luck in the world and we are still here. Embrace the bad luck. It's over. As our Man City and Chelsea players have proved, luck is on our side. Batty goes right, Ronaldinho hits the bar, Southgate puts it home... Hart saves Van Persie's penalty...