5 Reasons to Believe England Can Win Euro 2016


I know what you're thinking England fans. Oh no you didn't. Haven't you learnt anything from the last 49 years of abject misery, cruelly magnified by unrealistic expectation at every turn? 

The law of English football now states that all England teams are incompetent until proven genius. And this Roy Hodgson team are a long, long way from entering the genius conversation.

But it's hard to deny there's a change in the air - and I don't just mean the #Harrikane that's blown in. England appear to have a plan. Their players appear to be enjoying executing on that plan, and a general air of positivity permeates all therein.

Is it truly that fanciful to suggest England can win the Euros in France next year? Here are five reasons to believe the hype (and set ourselves up for the kind of crushing disappointment we haven't felt since 1998).

 

1. Wayne Rooney 2.0

England Press Conference : News Photo

The incendiary Wayne Rooney of Euro 2004 is lost forever. It's long been time England fans accepted that fact and stopped yearning for Rooney to play Roy of the Rovers at a major tournament again.

In his place England still have something special, however, in Rooney 2.0. Matured, settled and relishing this period in his career, Rooney has fresh momentum for both club and country right now.

With the spotlight gradually shifting to the next generation, Rooney has come to terms with the pressure. He's found a happy place as Hodgson's England captain and everything is in place for the 29-year-old to finally deliver on a big stage next summer - be it as a striker or from a deeper position.

 

2. Speed on the counter

The modern game puts a big onus on pressing the opposition and speed on the counter-attack, so fitness and pace are obviously major components to get right.

With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Andros Townsend, Harry Kane, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge to call on, Hodgson has dynamic runners in abundance and a crop of players who can fulfil their duties at both ends of the pitch.

 

3. Hodgson's blueprint

England Media Access : News Photo

There's a calm control about Hodgson's tenure right now. You get a sense he's come to terms with the job, and the madness that comes with it, and has finally been able to let his coaching do the talking.

Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe went so far as to say Hodgson has developed a "philosophy" - one with an attacking edge that is honed for the interchanging of personnel and has every member of his squad ready to do a job.

Hodgson is not afraid to experiment and he's not afraid to be bold - realising that England are equipped with attacking weapons that can hurt any opponent. 

 

4. Raheem Sterling

England v Lithuania - EURO 2016 Qualifier : News Photo

We might argue Sterling is the best young player in the world right now. The Liverpool forward is a devastating runner, who can create and score goals from nothing and will be a feared opponent in France.

Sterling took his bow at the World Cup last summer; the Euros should be where he explodes on the biggest stage and takes his reputation to the next level.

It's key Sterling's contract issues are ironed out by then, of course, and we can only cross our fingers that he's in immaculate fitness come May 2016.

READ: Why Raheem Sterling is Football's Next Global Superstar

 

5. The fearlessness of youth

England v Lithuania - EURO 2016 Qualifier : News Photo

It's no coincidence that both Rooney and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo had their best international tournaments so far at Euro 2004. The fearlessness of youth is a powerful thing and England will be hoping to tap into exactly that in France next summer.

Harry Kane is the most obvious winner here. The prolific Spurs striker will be another 12 months of hype into his development, yet still fresh enough of mind to go to the Euros with a freedom he'll never have again.

Could Kane's goals drive England all the way to glory? It's a fanciful thought, but based on his trajectory so far we can't rule it out. 

Others with the fearlessness of youth on their side include Sterling and Nathaniel Clyne, both of whom should be starters at the tournament.

And there you have it - five reasons to set yourself up for heartache. You'll notice we didn't mention the fact Germany are obviously going to win the Euros next year.

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