Euro 2016: Five reasons why England can win the European Championship in France

 
Ross McLean
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Kane and Vardy netted 49 Premier League goals between them last seasons (Source: Getty)

1. It’s very much in vogue to be young, pro-risk and have a no-fear attitude. The England one-day cricket team has led the way but the Three Lions’ victory against Germany in March showcased all those qualities. The mood may have fallen flat only days later with defeat to Holland, a side who stumbled in Euro 2016 qualifying, but that night in Berlin gave England fans hope that the shackles of rigidity and previous failure can be replaced with a fresh joie de vivre.

2.­Leicester City. The Foxes’ fairytale top-flight title victory changed everything and ripped up the football handbook. Leicester should give huge encouragement to all teams, international or otherwise, that were previously dismissed as also-rans. The old rules simply don’t apply anymore. If Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester can lift the Premier League, is it too outlandish to suggest England will win Euro 2016?

3. You would be hard-pressed to recall a time when England have had so much attacking prowess. Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy netted 49 Premier League goals between them last season, while fit-again marksman Daniel Sturridge weighed in with nine across all competitions after he returned from injury in February. England’s strikeforce – Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey – during the so-called golden generation’s European Championship of 2004 only amassed a combined 31 between during the preceding season.

4. For the first time in a long while England have a thoroughly modern and flexible midfield. It wasn’t so long ago that Fabio Capello was still pushing a flat and static four in the middle but now PFA Young Player of the Year Dele Alli is the frontrunner of a midfield capable of causing havoc between the lines. Throw in the likes of Jack Wilshere, an improving Adam Lallana and perhaps a deeper-lying Wayne Rooney and there is great potential.

5. Sometimes the stars simply align. Think Party Politics winning the 1992 Grand National days before a general election, Manchester United lifting the 1999 Champions League final on Sir Matt Busby’s birthday and Liverpool coming close to conquering Europe, albeit in the Europa League, weeks after the Hillsborough families won their battle for justice. This year is the 50th anniversary of England’s 1966 World Cup win (above) as well as the 20 years since Euro 1996, the team’s best showing at a European Championship. It’s tenuous, but a straw to be clutched at nonetheless.