For the first time in a while, England go into the tournament with the pressure off and expectation low. Hodgson's squad selection caused raised eyebrows here and there after leaving Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand out. Having seen Gary Cahill ruled out of the tournament, Liverpool defender Martin Kelly was drafted in, suggesting a future for England is potentially disappearing for Ferdinand. Alongside Cahill, midfielders Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard are also out through injuries meaning heavy responsibility sits on Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker to pull the stings in midfield.
Opponents come in the form of France, Sweden and Ukraine with the French the first group game next Monday. The last time England faced them in a major tournament was back in 2004 where two late Zinedine Zidane goals clinched victory. Having failed to pass the group stage at the World Cup two years ago, the French have improved significantly under boss Laurent Blanc. France's front four will be the danger for England, with Ribery, Nasri, Benzema and Ben Arfa leading the line. Benzema has had an excellent season for Real Madrid and is certain to continue this from going into the Championships. Sweden and Ukraine are the other teams England will have to beat if they are to reach the quarter finals.
With expectation low, England can go into the tournament with nothing to lose. Defensively, England have looked fairly solid and having kept two clean sheets in the recent friendlies, teams may struggle to break them down. In goal, England may have the best keeper in the world at the moment. Joe Hart has been excellent for Manchester City this season, and with his presence and confidence in goal, we go into a tournament with a guaranteed first choice keeper. Hitting teams on the counter attack may be the best bet for England going into the tournament and if it means winning games 1-0 each time then no-one will complain. Anything past the group stages will be seen as a success for the team and something for Hodgson to build on for the up and coming World Cup qualifying campaign. It's time to get behind the team, support the boys and hope that maybe, just maybe we can pull it off!