Six players to watch at Euro 2012
1. Steven Gerrard
Like all young players Gerrard has yet to find a position that suits him, but his raw talent still makes him a player to watch. Capable of shooting with power if not yet accuracy, Gerrard also lacks tactical awareness and sometimes overestimates his passing ability, which, though at a good level, often sees him looking for decisive passes which are far too ambitious when a simple ball would be better. All of this, you would imagine, will come with age: the talent is certainly there. Perhaps his potential will be realised with a move to a big European club, and a good tournament this time around could see such a move come to fruition.
2. Adam Johnson
A relatively late bloomer, Johnson was held back at his first club, Middlesbrough, by the excellent Stewart Downing who, as we now know given his importance to the current England side, was destined to be a footballing icon. A move to Manchester City has seen Johnson come good though. With his first league winners’ medal in his pocket, Johnson goes into Euro 2012 full of good form and confidence, having had the kind of impact on the title race that his former rival at Middlesbrough, Stewart Downing, would be proud of.
3. Rio Ferdinand
The natural partner for John Terry. He’s the player with the most success still available for selection. Premier Leagues and a European Cup, a decade at the top. Over his injury problems this season, and ready to give his all for his country. There are others who might replace him in the long-term: Jagielka, Lescott, Jones and maybe someday even Martin Kelly. Of course, that’s for the future, as Rio Ferdinand gives England a defensive solidity you wouldn’t find anywhere else. When he retires, people will realise that Nemanja Vidic was only half of arguably the best Premier League defence of all time. Only something really fishy could result in him not attending.
4. Kevin Strootman
Whether or not he finishes as top scorer at the Euros, the Netherlands’ latest hot prospect is likely to prove a revelation. He’s got pace, power and an eye for goal, from what I’ve seen on Youtube. Definitely. With his excellent touch and vision added into that mix, he’s almost the complete player. Definitely. It was either him or Arjen Robben anyway.
5. Carlos Puyol
Captain Carlos will be key for Spain in their attempt to retain the European Championships. This may well be a last hurrah for Puyol; it would only be natural that he went out with a bang*.
*N.B. The phrase ‘going out with a bang’ was in no way meant to cast aspersions over Puyol’s sexual habits.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
The Muscles from Brussels. Finally Belgium stand a chance of making an impression.
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