The Three Lions
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England come into UEFA Euro 2012 with a new manager in Roy Hodgson and, for once, relatively low expectations from their loyal but often overly-optimistic supporters.
After the Three Lions’ disappointments in recent major tournaments, particularly the 2010 FIFA World Cup where they were thrashed by arch rivals Germany in the first knockout round, it seems to be widely accepted that they will not be genuine contenders for the trophy in Poland-Ukraine.
Hodgson has a successful record as a manager at mid-level clubs, but his spells with big sides such as Internazionale and Liverpool have been a lot less impressive.
He does have previous experience of managing senior national teams – Switzerland (1992-95) UAE (2002-04) and Finland (2006-07) – but taking charge of England is still a huge step up for him.
England qualified by going unbeaten in Group G of the preliminaries under former manager Fabio Capello, easily topping the pool ahead of Montenegro, Switzerland, Wales and Bulgaria. It will be their eighth appearance at the European Championships; the Three Lions’ best finish is third in 1968 (their debut) and they also reached the semifinals as hosts in 1996.
This time around they are faced with a difficult challenge just to advance from Group D.
Aside from co-hosts Ukraine (who obviously have home advantage and all that comes with it), England will also face up to two teams they have struggled against in major tournaments in the past: Sweden and old enemies France.