Roy Hodgson may have wasted England's best chance of getting to a semi-final in 20 years

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England's 0-0 draw with Slovakia on Monday night meant Roy Hodgson's team finished below Wales in second place in Euro 2016 group B.

England's failure to top the group means they are on the same half of the knockout draw as Germany, Spain, Italy and hosts France - if they get past Iceland in the last-16. 

Had England won group B, their route to the final could have seemed much more appealing, with a possible quarter-final clash against an underperforming Belgium side, followed up with a likely semi-final tie against Croatia.


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Gamble backfired 

The Three Lions would have been one of the favourites to reach the final had that been the outcome, but instead, they face a daunting task against the best teams in the tournament, with a likely quarter-final clash with favourites France on the cards.

Roy Hodgson chose to rest six of his starting eleven against Slovakia, including captain Wayne Rooney and Kyle Walker, arguably England's best two players in the tournament so far.

Danny Rose, Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling were among the other players rested for the final group game. Hodgson gambled, and it didn't pay off.

Hodgson's decision to rest key players for the game seemed a strange one considering his side hadn't even secured qualification to the next round. Given that anything other than a win would likely see Wales win the group, it was a must-win game.

England had good chances to win the game against Slovakia but ultimately didn't create enough. If Hodgson had started with his best eleven, England would surely have created more opportunities to win the game.

England lost momentum 

The Three Lions' last-minute winner against Wales meant Hodgson's side were top of the group, and they would have had much more momentum going into the final group game had Hodgson stuck with the team that finished the game against Chris Coleman's side.

World champions Germany were in a similar position going into their final group game but only made two changes in their victory over Northern Ireland, while already-qualified Spain made no changes in their final group game. All that makes Hodgson's decision to rest six even more baffling. 

It would have been understandable if Hodgson had chosen to rest one or two players, but to rest six in a must-win game represents a concerning error of judgement from the England manager.

Poor judgement 

Despite dominating possession again, England's build-up play was much slower against Slovakia, a consequence of interrupting the midfield three of Eric Dier, Rooney and Dele Alli. Rooney and Alli's introduction gave England much more fluency going forward but they were ultimately introduced too late.

Against Russia, Hodgson's overly cautious substitutions played a big part in losing points against one of the worst teams in the competition, and winning the group would have quite possibly given England their best chance of getting to at least the semi-finals since they last achieved that feat at Euro '96. 

England are still capable of reaching the last four, and that would represent a successful tournament according to the FA. Hodgson's poor decision making means that if they are to get to the semi-finals, they will now have to do it the hard way. 

How far will England go at Euro 2016? Have your say in the comments.





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Wayne Rooney
Euro 2016
England Football

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