After throwing all my energy and optimism into believing England could prove the doubters wrong at Euro 2012, I, along with the rest of the nation, watched on as both sets were proven wrong, or right, depending on your outlook.
Views ranged from “It was an encouraging and professional performance” to “It was more boring than an Adrian Chiles match summary”.
The game started well, with England pressing and giving as good as they got. James Milner was unlucky to miss his effort after rounding Hugo Llori, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was ‘merking’* full-grown Frenchmen at will.
* Rio Ferdinand’s representative has informed me his client is outraged at such liberal use of his trademarked terminology. Sorry, Rio.
Then, as Joleon Lescott powered home Steven Gerrard’s David Beckham-esque cross, we optimists felt vindicated.
Hodgson was masterminding England’s journey to Euro 2012 glory. Players who finally believed in themselves were playing for each other. It’s different this time, we can… oh, Nasri’s scored.
The second half was a lot more tactical, chess-like or boring depending on who you speak to, but a hard-earned point was the outcome and England can now look ahead to a clash with Sweden knowing that a win puts them in an excellent position to qualify.
You can show your faith in the boys by using the free £25 bet you receive for registering with bwin to back them at 1/2 to make it through to the quarter-finals, or at 21/10 to emerge from Group D as winners.
My tip to be England’s top goalscorer at Euro 2012, Ashley Young, had one of his quieter games and was never likely to flourish while Hodgson’s men contained and went long for Danny Welbeck.
However, the Manchester United man is now out at 6/1 to bag the most goals for the Three Lions and given the relative slackness in the bearded Sweden defence on view in Kiev on Monday night, Young still seems a good bet to me.
Bwin verdict: Good, without being great. England showed plenty of their defensive capabilities against France, but still kept the doubters loud in the attacking department. The lack of Wayne Rooney may well be a factor, but they have very little to fear from Sweden and so look in great shape to qualify. The 12/1 on England winning the tournament still sounds good to this optimist.
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