London: Carlos Quiroz, former coach of Real Madrid and now assistant coach at Manchester United says England deserves respect but are certainly not overwhelming favourites at Euro 2004. The tournament kicks off in exactly a week from now with the big game between France and England. England's tourist attractions are almost as well known as their football players. However, the country that is the home of football has come nowhere near dominating the game with the exception of the 1966 World Cup win. Almost as famous as any of London's landmarks is England, captain David Beckham is known for his trademark free kicks and all his off the field activities as well. Beckham almost missed the 2002 World Cup with a broken foot and this time too there are some doubts about a niggling injury. Though Beckham was quick to dismiss them. "I definitely don't want people to talk about my injury because there isn't one. There is obviously a niggle that I've had for a few weeks, but it's not going to be a problem," said Beckham. England is rated among the favourites at Euro 20004, though recent results have not really been encouraging, a loss in Sweden, a home defeat to Denmark and a draw against Japan are not quite the score lines the fans would have wanted. Midfielders and strikers do not seem to be a problem for England with the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrad, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen. However, the defence certainly is the biggest blow came with Rio Ferdinand, the world's most expensive mid-fielder being ruled out because of an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test. And when you are taking on the might of France then you certainly need your best defenders. England is clubbed in-group B with the defending champion, Croatia and Switzerland. Only the top two go through to the quarters, England's best at the euro championships has been two semi-final appearances and till now their most famous foot balling moment is the 1966 World Cup triumph. "As the England captain I believe we can go all the way and win it, but obviously there is a lot of hard work that has to go into that and need luck along the way, but I'm very optimistic about this team and the expectations are always very high from the players up to the fans and they've got a right to be," said Beckham. England meanwhile, has one big advantage over group rivals France. The French are sticking with Fabien Barthez despite his many bloopers while England have got rid of David seaman who probably cost them the quarter-final clash against Brazil in the last World Cup.
Topics : Football