Following Spain’s record-breaking victory in the European Championship Final, Great Britain will now turn its attention to the London 2012 Olympic Games, where the nation’s football squads were announced recently.
Emulating the Spanish style will be almost impossible for this group of young players, but a talented group nonetheless; they will certainly feel they have a chance to win a medal this summer. The excellent Brazil side are favourites to take the gold medal, but a mixture of English and Welsh talent will be on show in the Team GB football team.
The big question for this squad, can they finally bring success to the home nations for the first time since 1966?
With no Scottish or Northern Irish Internationals represented in the squad, ‘Team GB’ has a little less feel of ‘Great Britain’ and more of an England Under-21 side look. There are other major absentees from Stuart Pearce’s side, not just two nations worth but a World icon to say the least.
David Beckham’s omission has raised several eyebrows, but it will be no surprise that Pearce has defended his ‘footballing reasons’ decision. For those who have bought Olympic tickets to see Team GB playing football this summer, this news will come as a major disappointment not to see one of England’s most capped players in action. In footballing terms, it almost makes perfect sense. He’s not shown his physical capabilities in recent times and has seemed out of his depth for a while, constantly picking up injuries.
To Beckham’s credit, he scored a trademark free-kick last weekend for LA Galaxy, to prove some doubters wrong and he does still have that natural ability to whip the ball into the top corner. His passion for his country is unrivalled and his involvement in the London 2012 Games has been well documented, but for now he’ll have to play a part on the side lines.
Other noticeable absentees include Gareth Bale and Jack Wilshere, much to their club’s delight who will now try and get their respective players fit for August 18th. Jack Rodwell, recently won his first England senior cap also misses out on a place in the team, a player who could have provided much ammunition in both defensive and offensive situations.
Those who have made it include another Manchester United legend, Ryan Giggs. Even at a marvellous 38, older than Beckham, he’s turning out match winning performances for Manchester United and was only too pleased to be part of the squad. His exceptional knowledge and skill will be vital for a successful Team GB display. Fellow countryman Craig Bellamy still has the natural pace to cause to defenders problems, a feature Giggs may try and exploit from midfield.
Other players such as Tom Cleverly and Aaron Ramsey also have the ability to pick a pass and with pace-men such as Scott Sinclair and Danny Rose, as well as Ryan Bertrand, Team GB’s left wing looks a very attacking outlet.
Micah Richards makes up the three over-23 players available for selection, no doubt because of his unfortunate omission from Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad, and the relationship Pearce seemingly adores with Richards from their days together at Manchester City and the England’s Under-21 squad. There is no doubt however after being left out of Euro 2012, Richards deserves his place.
Several of Swansea’s star men feature in the squad too in a strong Welsh contingent. Other young English defenders will also be looking to make an impression for their national side’s selectors, as will Southampton’s Jack Cork, now of the Premier League class.
The perhaps strange decision, apart from Beckham, comes in the form of Marvin Sordell. He didn’t start a single game for Bolton in the final six months of last season following his transfer from Watford. Clearly Pearce knows something about him no one got to see last season. Jack Butland, fresh from his Euro experience will be looking to impress, as will Jason Steele, both currently in the Championship, however their careers are expected to flourish. Daniel Sturridge was unlucky not to go to the Euros but he will feel a reprieve has come at this tournament providing he can overcome meningitis.
This side has pace and speed in abundance, and with quality precision from the midfield, they have the ability to move in behind defences, and just enough quality to take the chances to win the game. Defensively there should be no problem, with strength and additional pace in attack, Pearce has the options to provide a free-flowing show for those in attendance. Not quite of Spain’s quality though, yet.
Ultimately, Team GB has got to be the best chance of Home Nation’s success since 1966, and once again, it will be on home soil.