Three Lions may find it hard to roar

When there is that unmistakable smell of optimism in the English air, you know an international football tournament is just around the corner.

Football News: England

It is a given that every time a World Cup or a European Championship takes place, England are trumpeted by the media as favourites to win. What happens next has been about 45 years of tears and anguish - England's last major title came at the World Cup in 1966.

So here we are on the cusp of Euro 2012 and already a change can be felt in the air. Just a few months ago, England manager Fabio Capello was a bumbling buffoon who had serious issues with man-management but after some notable 1-0 victories against Spain and Sweden in November, he is now considered a decent manager again.

The Italian has already announced his intention to leave the post after Euro 2012 and this will give him the chance at least to have the last say on how he is ultimately remembered as in England.


World ranking: 7 (as of November 2011).
Manager: Fabio Capello

Can they win it?

A couple of 1-0 wins in friendly games can hardly be used as hard evidence that England are about to conquer Euro 2012. However, those wins against Spain and Sweden in November shouldn't be dismissed entirely.

The stat men (Opta Sports) will point out that before that result against Spain, England haven't defeated a reigning World Cup holder since 1980 when they got the better of Argentina. These same guys will also tell you that England have not beaten Sweden since 1968 before Tuesday's result at Wembley. England have a right to feel a little confident now and let's be honest the Three Lions are not a bad side - they topped their Euro 2012 qualifying group with an undefeated run of five wins and three draws.

Now for the negatives. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is England's best player and he has been suspended for all of their Euro 2012 group games. Also, most of England's star players always seem to show up for major tournaments looking tired and unfit after having exerted all their energies playing in the grueling Barclays Premier League season.

Given the quality of other sides around them such as Spain, Germany and Holland, the best England manager Fabio Capello should probably hope for is a semi-final appearance.

However, expect England's chances to diminish further should there be some sort of scandal dug up by the media closer to Euro 2012 kick-off.

Best performance at European championships: Semi-finals in 1996.

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