Another summer tournament brings with it yet another chance for England to enter as one of the favourites and exit as disappointments. It seems inevitable at this point, and it’s a feeling that isn't helped by questions about the manager’s tactical nous and stubborn insistence on shoehorning in favoured players regardless of fit or fitness.
Still, England are one of the clear favourites at Euro2016—no other country made it through qualifying with as good a goal differential as the Three Lions. They’re also a very young side, which is something Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge hopes will mean they won’t be burdened by England’s history of disappointing results in the summer tournaments.
"We know there will be a lot of eyes on us, but I think we will enjoy the occasion and thrive," Sturridge told reporters gathered at England’s pre-Euro camp in Chantilly this morning. "The feeling is great. It’s probably a bit more relaxed than before because the group is younger. There’s a togetherness around camp. We’re just ready to go. It feels different."
With Russia stumbling through qualification, England’s group—Slovakia and Wales are the other countries—looks theirs to lose, with everyone else along to see who can finish second and guarantee advancement. Even if something goes wrong, that four of the six third-place sides will advance should give England plenty of leeway navigating the group stage.
Whatever the case, though—a relatively easy group or that it would be nearly impossible to imagine England not advancing or that it’s a young side unburdened by past failures—Sturridge insists the players are confident. That they’re ready. That, just maybe, this is as good as it’s been for England, at least in his times with the national team.
"The past is the past and we’re not looking into that," he added. "There are top class players at every position. We’re very prepared. The management team have put in a lot of work and we will have no excuses because we have all the information we need. Everyone is feeling happy. It’s the best [England camp] I’ve experienced."