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Euro 2004 - hope for the future - 09/07/2004

Euro 2004 - hope for the future
We missed his ability to hold the ball up
 
Links:
 Players:
   Michael Owen
   Darius Vassell
   Wayne Rooney
 Associations:
   Football Association

Before a ball was kicked at the Euro 2004 Championship many of us would have expected at least progression to the semi-finals for the tournament to have been deemed acceptable. So as I returned to England after the 1/4 final defeat there was a sense that we had underperformed on the big stage. However in analysing the performance of the team there seemed little room for doom and gloom - but more a feeling that we're not too far away from becoming a very formidable team. After an incredible opening game against the French, good wins against Switzerland and Croatia, and then the disappointment of the penalty shoot out against Portugal, there were more positives than negatives.

In Euro '96 after an unconvincing game at Wembley against Spain, we actually won through the penalty kicks and went on to reach the semi's against the Germans. Virtually everyone looked at Euro '96 as a big success - but if we hadn't of received any good fortune with thos penalties aginst the Spanish...we certainly wouldn't have been happy. The difference between success and failure can be very small...how far were we away from knocking Portugal out and then perhaps going on to face Greece in the final? The major factor in losing the game against the host nation was the loss of Wayne Rooney to that first half injury. Playing Owen and Vassell up front was not ideal for a team who desperatley needed their forward to keep hold of the ball. Rooney, like Shearer who's the master of receiving and holding the ball, provided a very valuable link in the England machine. After he left the field not only were we loss potent up front, but we also had less possession...and as such invited all that Portuguese pressure that eventually led us to concede.

We can look back at the tournament with mixed emotions, but in doing so we can also look forward to a England team that can still progress and improve in readiness for the German World Cup in 2006. Portugal didn't provide the glory we hoped for, but it did provide much hope.


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