With the 2016 European Championship kicking off this summer, it's fair to say that much has been learned about Roy Hodgson's England side and how they will look to approach their Group B games. After a qualifying campaign which saw them maintain a 100% winning record against rather underwhelming opposition, many Three Lions fans will be hoping their country doesn't revert to type at Euro 2016 by underperforming when it really matters.
The Euro 1996 semi-finalists are at the time of writing at 8/1 odds to win the competition this summer when betting on Euro 2016 with Paddy Power but their maiden European Championship success is very much dependant on how head coach Hodgson chooses to field his side. Here at New York South East Post, we outline three things Roy must do in order for his England team to go far in France.
Give Dele Alli free roam
Creativity and ingenuity in the final third of the pitch has often been England's downfall at major tournaments in the past. After only scoring two goals at the 2014 World Cup, many England sides past and present have struggled to have that 'cut through' required to break down teams at the highest level. Despite just ending his maiden season in the Premier League, Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has already proven in his very short career at the North London club that he has what it takes to make England's midfield tick. Goals such as his stunning volley against Crystal Palace for Spurs and his maiden goal in a Three Lions shirt against France are only further testaments to the innate talent he possesses.
Utilise the pace of Walker and Rose
With England likely to set up their stall with a narrow 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation against Russia in their opening group game, the raw pace of likely-to-start full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose is one thing that they should make the most of. Much like Alli, Walker and Rose both had stand-out seasons for Tottenham Hotspur this year with their ability to break quickly and join counter attacks being part of the reason why they finished so high up the Premier League table. With a real paucity of 'out and out wingers' in England's 23-man squad, it is vitally important Roy Hodgson's men don't stay too rigid and attempt to utilise Rose and Walker's attacking talents when trying to break teams down.
Be bold with team selection
Uninspiring and predictable are both adjectives that have often been levelled at Roy Hodgson and his team selection policy by England fans in recent times. Whilst his final 23-man squad for the European Championship certainly raised a few eyebrows (as it usually does), not many can say his decision to leave a title-winning Danny Drinkwater at home, for example, was hugely surprising. With a drab quarter-final exit against Italy in Euro 2012 followed by a disastrous group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup currently the sum of Hodgson's achievements at major tournaments, it's safe to say now is the time for him to really 'go for it' this summer by looking to take a calculated risk or two in his team selections.