Expectations have been tempered somewhat in the England camp, with signs of progress the order of the day.
With Roy Hodgson thrust straight into the deep end, he will need to use all of his experience in a tricky group.
FIFA Ranking: 7
Elo Ranking: 6
Best Performance at European Championships: Twice semi-finalists (1968 and 1996) In the 1968 tournament England finished third. They were beaten by Yugoslavia, but defeated the Soviet Union 2-0 to claim third place. Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst scored the goals.
On home soil in 1996 England drew with Switzerland, but beat Scotland 2-0 and the Netherlands 4-1 to progress to the quarter-finals. A penalty shoot-out win over Spain set up a showdown with old rivals, Germany. After a 1-1 draw England were defeated 6-5 in the penalties.
How they qualified: Winners of Group G England qualified unbeaten from Group G ahead of Montenegro and Switzerland. Home form was slightly patchy, dropping points to both Montenegro and the Swiss. However, away from home England were far more ruthless, winning three from four and scoring ten goals.
The Boss: Roy Hodgson There will have been few managers who have had less time to prepare for a major tournament than Roy Hodgson. In the wake of Fabio Capello's exit, it was widely believed the Harry Redknapp would be offered the England job. Instead the FA opted for the steady hand of WBA's Roy Hodgson.
He started his managerial career in Sweden, winning two league titles with Halmstad. A move to Bristol City didn't work out, and he returned to Sweden with Oddevold, Orebro and Malmo, where he won five league titles. He moved on to Neuchatel Xamax and masterminded a 5-1 demolition of Celtic in the UEFA Cup. Next up was Switzerland, who he led to the 1994 World Cup round of 16. After helping the team qualify for Euro 1996 in his homeland he left to join Inter Milan.
After two seasons with Inter he left the club after losing the UEFA Cup final to Schalke. A term at Blackburn was mixed; leading them to the UEFA Cup in the first season and being sacked in the second as the club were relegated. Again he hopped around the continent, taking charge of Inter for a second time, Grasshoppers, Copenhagen and Udinese. A two year spell in the UAE was followed by a return to the Nordic countries, first with Viking and then with the Finnish national side.
His redemption in the eyes of the English public was complete when he took over at Fulham and not only established the club in the top half of the division, but took them to the Europa League final, beating Juventus on the way. Liverpool didn't work out for either manager or club, but he again showed his abilities at West Brom, saving them from relegation and stabilising them in the middle of the table.
One to watch: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) Despite being an uncapped teenager, Oxlade-Chamberlain could well go straight into the England team if Hodgson plays a particularly attacking version of his usual 4-4-1-1 formation. Blessed with almost ridiculous pace and strength, he came to the fore this season with a series of eye-catching performances for Arsenal, especially in Europe. Operating mainly as a winger, Oxlade-Chamberlain could provide something different for England, particularly as an impact substitute.
Likely line-up: Hodgson hasn't yet had the time to field a team for England, so this is far more guesswork than for any other team! What is almost certain is that Hodgson will deploy a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 formation, with two banks of four. He's also more likely to reward workrate than virtuoso performers, particlarly in the middle of the pitch.
Joe Hart is certain to start as first choice goalkeeper. Ashley Cole will certainly start at left back, with Glen Johnston likely to be right-back. Given he was included, John Terry will likely start at centre back, with team-mate Gary Cahill seeming the likely partner.
The manager's love of industrious players will probably mean that Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard will play in the centre of the pitch, with Stuart Downing and James Milner on either side. With Wayne Rooney's suspension, Ashley Young could be deployed behind Andy Carroll, to start with at least.
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