EUR- Having a laugh

When the full time whistle sounded in Lisbon on Wednesday evening, the Portuguese national side claimed the final place at next summer’s European Championships.

After putting the helpless Bosnia-Herzegovina to the sword with a convincing 6-2 victory, Portugal now join the waiting game along with the other qualified nations in finding out their fate in Poland and the Ukraine.

With all four pots for the draw in just two weeks time being decided, fans of each qualified country will surely be licking their lips at the prospect of the enticing group stage that lies in wait. Or will they?

Well for sure the likes of the Republic of Ireland who will be making only their second ever appearance at a European Championship will be ecstatic reaching this stage, as will co hosts the Ukraine and Poland who are looking to put on a fantastic spectacle in their homelands.

But not so far away in the continent the national sides of England and just a channel tunnel away France, will perhaps be some more what cautious this time when deciphering their potential path to the final in Kiev on the 1st of July.

For The Three Lions the rout out of the group stage has all the ingredients to either frustrate or excite fans and players alike with their being no so called easy games in this 16 side strong tournament.

England could find themselves pitted amongst some of Europe’s finest players in the dreaded group of death containing World Champions and European Championship holders Spain, Portugal and the French. A fearful prospect once you consider the suspension of talisman Wayne Rooney during these crucial games. However just as easily they could find themselves competing with the likes of the Ukraine, Greece and the Republic of Ireland for 2 of the 8 coveted places in the quarter finals.

After a whole calendar year undefeated, England have been helped massively in terms of confidence and ridding themselves of their South Africa hangover. But since the last world cup a lot has change and a mass exodus and the form and emergence of the younger players has certainly given boss Fabio Capello food for thought and reason for renewed optimism heading into next year’s tournament.

So would elimination at the group stage at the hands of Spain and say France who outplayed England at Wembley little over a year ago deem massive failure? I’m not so sure, but as a proud Englishmen I’ve come to always and not always justifiably expect unreasonable success.

The French could in two weeks time be reflecting on a tough draw and going head to head with Spain, Germany and Portugal in their first 3 matches be understandably tight lipped over their chances of progression to the latter stages of the competition.

Moreover on the other side of the coin Les Blues could be relaxing in the comfort they have drawn the Ukraine, Greece and Russia.

Whatever the outcome more than one nation will come away from the draw at 5pm on the 2nd of December being dealt a huge slice of realism with regards to their chances of being crowned European Champions.

Simon Blaquiere @simonblaquiere1



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