Euro 2016: Can England win it?

When Roy Hodgson announced his World Cup squad in May 2014, it was a squad for the future. A squad with potential. A squad capable of upcoming success.

The campaign in Brazil, however, did not go to plan. England finished bottom of the group, unable to win a game and finishing with one point.

The World Cup in Brazil was a huge learning curve for the young lions, and that could become vital for their chances at the European Championships this summer in France .

England were knocked out in the group stages in Brazil

Whats Changed?

Two years have passed since the 2014 World Cup and England have improved more than ever. They achieved a 100% qualifying record for France, winning all 10 group games and conceding just six goals.

Following their 100% qualifying record, Roy Hodgson’s team became the first England side ever to do this, and only the sixth team ever to record a spotless European Championships qualifying run. Could success be on the cards?

Furthermore, many players have shone wearing the England shirt during the perfect qualifying campaign — as well as tremendous performances for their club.

Here are the players that have the potential for success in France

Wayne Rooney
The 29-year-old burst onto the international stage with his performances at Euro 2004. Since then, Rooney has struggled at major tournaments, scoring one goal in three World Cups. Now, he is revived in an England shirt. Performances are stronger, the goals are following and he is England's new all time leading goalscorer with 51 — surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton. Rooney has found his form for Manchester United too and he has a great chance to perform in France when he captain’s the team.

Joe Hart 
Arguably one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. The two-time Premier League winner with Manchester City has been vital to their success in recent years and the shot-stopper has been excellent in qualifying for France. A major asset and importance to the back-four.

Emergence of Kane and Vardy
Could these two be on the plane for France? Two of the hottest strikers in the Premier League, who were nowhere near the World Cup 2014 squad. Two years down the line, Harry Kane has scored 40 goals for Tottenham in all competitions and was named the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2015. On the other hand, Jamie Vardy is setting the Premier League alight. The new record-holder for most goals in consecutive Premier league games (11). The Leicester man has worked his way up from Non-League to potentially winning the Premier League. With 19 league goals to his name this season and the division’s top scorer, Vardy won’t be a surprise if he leads the line in France.

Jamie Vardy (left) and Harry Kane (right) could feature at Euro 2016

Ross Barkley
Massive chance for him to announce himself on the European stage. The Everton midfielder has been nothing short of outstanding this season, with wonderful performances and eight Premier League goals, he has helped Everton reach the FA Cup Quarter-final. The young midfielder has been vital to Roy Hodgson’s team in qualifying, and after the World Cup experience, this is a great opportunity for Barkley to show Europe what he can really do.

Dele Alli
One of the players of the season so far in the Premier League. The 19-year-old midfielder burst onto the scene at the beginning of the the season for Tottenham, and he has been sensational in their title challenge. Scoring seven times, including a spectacular 25-yard volley against Crystal Palace, Dele Alli has been compared to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard after his dominant displays in midfield. He made his England debut back in October and he scored a wonderful goal against France on his first start for the senior team at Wembley — beating Spurs colleague, Hugo Lloris. A huge contender to board the plane to France.

What will stop England winning Euro 2016?

Not played any “big” countries in qualifying
Although England achieved a 100% qualifying record, the opposition they faced haven’t been too challenging — teams such as San Marino, Estonia and Lithuania. These teams will struggle to reach any major tournament, especially San Marino, who have never won an international competitive game and won just one friendly match to date. The real test for England will come in the friendlies leading up to Euro 2016. A disappointing 2–0 defeat to defending champions Spain and a 2–0 win against France have been the results so far in the friendly matches.

No experience in later stages of tournaments
The facts are that none of the squad have any experience of the latter stages of a major international tournament. England haven’t progressed past the quarter-finals of either a World Cup or European Championship since 1996, whereas Germany, Spain, and Italy have all been to finals in the past five years.

England suffering heartache at major tournaments has been a familiar sight down the years

There are a lot more positives to take to Euro 2016 for England. The young players really do have a chance to go far in the tournament. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was a big learning curve, which brought vital experience, and it can only be an advantage for Euro 2016. Despite the 2–0 defeat to Spain, England have proved they can perform against tough opposition. The 2–0 victory at Wembley against France back in November will sit well with Roy Hodgson — although the match was played in the wake of the Paris attacks. But with the Euro’s just around the corner, Hodgson will hope his players can continue their good form for their clubs, stay injury free and hopefully take their successful domestic campaigns to France.