Tough group for England, especially with Newcastle's Cabaye and Manchester City's Nasri in wait...
Here it is the event we have all been waiting for, The Euro 2012 group stage draw. Unfortunately the build up and set left a lot to be desired, comparable to the production of a struggling European nations Eurovision song contest offering, with the presenters too boot. The only memorable part of the opening 30 minutes being the fitting tribute paid to Gary Speed.
After the cringey build up and formalities were over the eggheads at Fifa then further over complicated things by including an over-exaggerated explanation of the simple task of primarily saying how16 differing nations are pulled out of a pot, told in a voice not to dissimilar to an annoying call centre worker, if I had been on the other end of the line i certainly would have hung up. Commentator Jonathon Pearce took up the role of a cranky Terry Wogan when he murmured 'thank goodness' when Gianni Infantini claimed he would not repeat the rigmarole himself.
The pain fest continued as terrible staged inter-language 'banter' commenced as ageing legends awkwardly reminisced about games gone by as their nations name came out of the draw. To make matters worse, just incase anybody could not see the blatant listings at the bottom of the screen we had a 'half time' recap to add further misery and anxiety to proceedings. This is not the X Factor. get on with it.
The draw eventually started and as it turned out everybody wanted to be in the weaker group A, the whole nation held its breath as the final name was drawn, please be England!, Russia, bloody Russia, a nervous sense of dread set in across the nation as the draw continued. Lucky England avoided the two groups of death B and C before being drawn last out, meaning the dullness continued for as long as possible before finally being grouped with the hosts Ukraine, Sweden and France in group D which must be considered a winnable group given the alternatives.
My analysis of our group starts with Ukraine, a nation not unfamiliar England in recent years having faced us in our last successful World Cup qualifying campaign, beating us 1-0 with an Nazarenko goal after Robert Green was inexcusably sent off. We did manage to beat them in the same qualifying campaign with a fairly forgettable 2-1 victory at Wembley in April 2009.Their man to watch will be footballing legend Andriy Shevchenko who will look to finish his career with a bang in his first international tournament. No worries here though, even with the support of the Ukrainian public we should have enough quality to see them off comfortably.
Also look out for Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye whose tidy performances have earned him plaudits throughout the country
Second up is Sweden who we always seem to draw in most International tournaments. The last meeting with them came a matter of months ago as England scraped to an unimpressive 1-0 victory. In tournament terms we last faced the Swedes in the 2006 World Cup where we drew 2-2 with Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard netting for the three lions.
Yet another striker is Sweden’s man to watch. The mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic who on his day must be considered one of the best forwards in the world with his silky skills and ruthless finishing. Seb Larsson is also a key man for the Swedes, fans of Sunderland have already been treated to his free-kick taking prowess with a sublime strike against Arsenal this season. England must be wary of them however again it is a game we should win.
Finishing with the old enemy, The French. They will be looking to make amends for their tragic display in the 2010 world cup and expect Manchester City's Samir Nasri whose penalty secured qualification to make a major impact on the European scene. Also look out for Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye whose tidy performances have earned him plaudits throughout the country and he is widely regarded as the League's top midfielder outside of the traditional top four clubs.
We last played France in a friendly in 2010 where we lost 2-1 at Wembley, this result suggests that they will be our toughest test in a testing but favourable group. But if their previous tournament outings are anything to go by we should have no problem in disposing with them. England could very well win this group with the French coming a close second.
Despite Capello's men being fortunate with their draw for once the luck certainly deserted the Irish as they drew Spain, Croatia and Italy, a very tough ask for a nation competing in their first Euros
The programme finished with a flourish as an awful Euro pop song was blared out which will undoubtedly be the bane of most peoples life for the duration of next summer.
'England will be alright, they will be okay' was the extent of the enthralling post draw analysis thanks Martin Keown we are all enlightened now.
With appetites wet and a reasonable draw which England should progress through, roll on the football fest that shall be Euro 2012. Come on England!
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook