Top of the group, two wins out of three, unbeaten with five goals scored and three conceded and Wayne Rooney discovering his tournament goalscoring mojo. All of a sudden England aren’t looking like the outsiders they were when Roy Hodgson announced his somewhat uninspiring squad.
Part of the reason, the nation is suddenly feeling a tad more optimistic is due to the fact we now face the beatable Italians in the quarter finals. Italy are always a tough prospect for any opponents, but let’s not pretend this is one of the strongest Italian sides in recent years. Yes they’ve got Mario Balotelli, Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo, but they’ve also been hit by injuries and also suffer from a lack of match winners.
Looking at the current Italy squad, they’ve scored a total of fifty international goals, compared to England’s 73. Our national side also boasts a much more impressive set of options from the bench in Theo Walcott, ALex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jermaine Defoe- not to mention Andy Carroll, while the Italians may be relying on he 34 year old Antonio Di Natale should things not go their way.
Should England progress past Italy then we’ll face the winners of Germany vs Greece- so basically the Germans then. I know the Greeks have won the tournament only eight years ago, but even the most avid Hellenic supporter would be hard pressed to make a case for them beating arguably the best German side since 1990.
Call me over-optimistic but i think England, could actually put the nightmare of Bloemfontein behind them and overcome the Germans. Admittedly it’s a hard task, but if Joleon Lescott can replicate his recent performances there’s no reason why he can’t keep Mario Gomez quiet, while you’d always fancy Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and a resurgent Steven Gerrard to cause them problems.
That would still leave the final of course and the smart money would be on England facing Spain, who have looked impressive without really getting out of second gear. Chelsea’s victory over Barcelona, may give the England players some hope that they can defeat a seemingly superior side, as the West Londoners did in the Champions League semi final.
All this conjecture means nothing of course, the big test comes on Sunday and we can worry about what happens after that IF we beat the Italians, an England win in the quarter finals is priced at 2.8/1 to win in 90 mins, 1.8/1 to qualify with Bet at Home.
If you’re feeling really optimistic then you can get odds of 9/1 for England to win the trophy while an England Spain is worth a punt at 17/2. Even the Americans are getting in on the act now with New Jersey voting for the legalisation of sports betting as our cousins from across the pond finally see the benefits of sticking a few dollars on Rooney 1-0.
If you do have a flutter, do bet responsibly- in other words, always back a United player to get the winner!