England have come out of group D as winners, finishing ahead of France, the co-hosts Ukraine and Sweden. The English media are jumping on the bandwagon and talking about a semi-final with Germany. For some reason, Italy are being brushed aside and all of a sudden Roy Hodgson's side have playing fantastic. The 270 minutes I've watched of England have told me something else.
Here's how I rate the 3 nations England faced in the group stage:
A 1-1 draw for England seemed like a good result at the time. France came into the championships on a long unbeaten streak and as some people's dark horses. Two games later this talk no longer exists. France were unimpressive in defeat to Sweden in their final group game and no other nation picked up fewer points than Laurent Blanc's side in making the final eight.
Striker Karim Benzema has looked desperate in trying to find a goal. 17 shots without finding the back of the net is the most attempts by a non-scorer at these championships so far. Most of these have been hopeful long range efforts. His support from Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri are failing to find the Real Madrid goalscorer inside the penalty box.
Nasri had a good first game against England but has been quiet since. Franck Ribery has not had a good game in any of his 3. Defensively, Hugo Lloris has not been called into many saves which makes the French defence sound good. They were not exploited against a defensive English unit or a poor Ukrainian side. However, Sweden put two past them. Spain can show them up in the quarters.
England relied on a goalkeeping howler from Andreas Isaksson for a Theo Walcott equaliser in the second half which help spurred on the victory. Roy Hodgson's side looked in control in the first half as they went in with a 1-0 lead. Two set pieces later and England's defence looked terrible.
Walcott's goal was the first stroke of luck England have had in this tournament. His burst past two slow Swedish defenders deserved some of the praise he received post-game. And well done to Danny Welbeck too for getting in front of Olof Mellberg to connect with his cut-back. The only positive impact the Manchester United striker has made in this tournament.
Sweden had looked unimpressive in their opening game defeat to Ukraine and their defence was for the taking. Three goals from England was acceptable, but the two conceded were concerning and one the Italians will be studying ahead of Sunday's quarter-final.
Yes, they had the majority of the stadium behind them as co-hosts heading into the final group game. Yes, Ukraine needed to win to make it out of the group stages. Oleh Blokhin's side were one of the poorest in the tournament.
England made hard work of what was expected to be a comfortable win. Artem Milevskiy missed a couple of chances up front whilst England got two breaks in this match. First, a deflection on Steven Gerrard's right wing cross caused Andriy Pyatov to let the ball go under him to allow Wayne Rooney to head in from close range.
Then for a rare occasion, England benefited from a bad call from both the referee's assistant who failed to see Marko Devic's effort cross the line. Michele Platini sent that crew home (Viktor Kassai was clear favourite to referee the final with the bookmakers to that point).
As for the players, here's how I think they played during the group stage:
Joe Hart – 7
The Manchester City shot stopper has been beaten from outside the area by club team mate Samir Nasri and conceded two set piece goals to Sweden. Looked nervy on set pieces early on, but Joe Hart has making a number of key saves too, including a one-on-one from Nasri and finished the group stag with a clean sheet.
Glen Johnson – 7
England's right full-back has outperformed my expectations. Glen Johnson kept Samir Nasri quiet down the left wing and has made a couple of key and timely interceptions in this tournament too. Not produced much going forward, but has done well defensively so far.
John Terry – 7
Moved from his natural left-sided centre back position to the left, moving away from Ashley Cole in the process, John Terry has been England's best defender in my opinion. He's thrown himself in the way of a number of shots, made tackles and numerous interceptions in the first three games. Has been caught out of position a couple of times though, but did clear the ball off the line versus Ukraine... so said the match officials.
Joleon Lescott – 7
Doing what he does at club level alongside Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott has let his centre back partner make the more tackles and interceptions, but been solid himself. No striker has got the best of him yet, and he even scored England's first goal in this tournament.
Ashley Cole – 7
Close to opening his international goal account but for a good save from Andriy Pyatov against Ukraine, Ashley Cole has not allowed his opposing right wingers to create much against England. Nothing special, but efficient.
James Milner – 5
Appears to be in the side for his hard work rate and to help protect the right side of the pitch supporting Glen Johnson, James Milner has done nothing to support England's attack, whilst came close to assisting Samir Nasri with a short backpass versus France. Didn't impress versus Sweden or Ukraine either.
Scott Parker – 7
The Tottenham captain has made his usual high number of tackles and blocked shots in this tournament. England's opponents haven't had much luck going down the middle against them and Scott Parker's the main man in the centre of England's midfield defensively.
Steven Gerrard – 9
After a short season with Liverpool, Steven Gerrard has been captain fantastic for England in getting them out of the group as winners. Credited with 2 assists for setting up Joleon Lescott and Andy Carroll with perfect deep crosses, it was Gerrard who's cross Rooney headed home against Ukraine after two deflections. A number of successful crosses, interceptions and tackles and Gerrard is head-and-shoulders above his team mates in terms of performance so far.
Ashley Young – 4
I'd feel guilty for giving an Englishman a score lower than 4. Ashley Young was barely noticeable against either France or Sweden. He put in a great cross from the left against Ukraine which Wayne Rooney should have done better with. No penetrative runs and little work defensively, it's been a disappointing performance having entered with high expectations.
Danny Welbeck – 5
Despite playing over 80 minutes in all 3 games, Danny Welbeck has just had 3 attempts on goal and only 1 of those on target. Yes, it was a good finish against Sweden but otherwise the Manchester United striker has been very unproductive. The strikers role is to score goals and Welbeck doesn't look like doing that.
Andy Carroll – 5
Limited time on the pitch and did score England's opener against Sweden. Other than that, Andy Carroll has not done too much. Conceded possession a few times and given away a couple of free kicks hasn't helped relieve pressure on the England defence.
Theo Walcott – 6
Impact sub against Sweden, Theo Walcott has only played 50 minutes in his 3 substitute appearances. In that team he has been fortunate to score a goal, do well to create the winner against Sweden and do nothing against Ukraine. Nothing special.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
The youngest player in the squad played well against France, despite any chance to catch them out on the counter denied by a couple of cynical fouls. Did his part defensively but hasn't had much time to make an impact since.
Wayne Rooney – 5
I would have considered a lower score but for Wayne Rooney getting in position to take advantage of bad goalkeeping to score the winner against Ukraine. The England star also made a good run in the first half of that game to get on the end of an Ashley Young cross, but put it wide. Looked very rusty in his first game with some poor first touches and giving away possession.