SPORT TALK: Why I’m buoyed by defensive England - but Spain to win again

Key loss? David Villa will be a big miss for Spain.

Key loss? David Villa will be a big miss for Spain.

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IT’S hard to remember a quieter build-up to a major international tournament, but Euro 2012 gets under way tomorrow – and I for one can’t wait.

While the nation has been wrapped up in the boring Jubilee celebrations (and, to a lesser extent, the Olympics), the football finals in Poland and Ukraine were always going to be my highlight of the summer.

I’ll be offering you my views on the feast of football throughout the next month in the Spalding Guardian – and where else could I start than with England?

I for one am encouraged by our new-found steel. We’ve looked very efficient against Norway and Belgium in recent weeks, and that’s a quality that usually serves teams well in tournament football.

As Greece proved in 2004, it’s more than possible to win by stinking the joint out with defensive, counter attack based football.

Some may be uneasy with England playing that way, but it served Chelsea well in the Champions League – and I fancy it’ll take us to the semi-finals. That’s as ambitious as I’m prepared to be...

I MAY as well stick my neck on the line and make a few predictions.

For the winners, I can’t see past either Spain, Germany or Holland. David Villa’s absence could prove key for the Spanish, but I’ll back them to make it two in a row.

My dark horses are France (currently 9-1 with Sky Bet, in case you fancy a flutter).

On paper they look very strong, especially going forward. Benzema and Ribery are capable of winning any game by themselves.