THE one good thing about the European soccer championship in Portugal is everyone is being rather realistic. Long gone are the days when England's victory celebrations were already organised before the tournament actually started. Long gone are the days when the tabloids plastered England's going to win it on their front and back pages. Even the English football pundits are being rather realistic as well. When asked on Sunday if England would beat France, both Terry Venables, Gareth Southgate and Sir Bobby Robson said that it would be unlikely. The fact they nearly did just shows how little faith these former England greats have in Sven's XI. While beating Switzerland should just be a stroll in the park tonight no-one is too confident. What a difference. The reason why of course is that after so many poor performances in World Cups and European Championships no-one has too much confidence in the national team. We've seen it all before. I would love to sit down and watch England play without having to leave the room, bite my finger nails, cross my fingers and look away every time the national squad is in danger. An alleged great performance against France, apart from minute 91 and 92. I don't think so. For 25 minutes of the second half it was the usual case of defend how you can. If England do go on and win the tournament, and I believe that David Beckham is the only person who is saying it (well, I think he said that!) I will naturally be pleased. But the high point for me is that everyone is being realistic and when we are eventually knocked out then it will come as no surprise. I suspect that all the St. George's flags in England had more to do with the European elections than the football. In years to come perhaps we will look back on Euro 2004 as the tournament where England got real.
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