Charlie's Euro picks
Portugal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can leave a strong imprint this summer, says Charlie Nicholas.
Last Updated: 07/06/12 9:19am
I have to say I'm not that excited about the tournament being held in Poland and Ukraine - it doesn't really capture the imagination for me, but I'm always hopeful that we're going to get exciting games full of attacking football.
Sometimes the opening games are a little cagey because teams are worried about going out early, but there is such an array of footballing styles that I think we could be in for a treat.
I'm getting increasingly excited about the number of talented teams that we're going to get to see, in particular Spain and Portugal.
We all admire and love watching Spain play and of course they're the world champions which brings a little bit of pressure, but all the footballing ingredients are there for them to go all the way again.
Portugal have, in many ways, been the poor man's Spain in recent times and they only just managed to qualify for this summer, but with players like Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Moutinho I can see them really going for it.
France are another exciting team, but I just don't think they've got enough about them. There's no doubt they possess the quality in players like Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri, but I think they rely too heavily on Karim Benzema and, much like England, I'd question whether they've got the mental strength.
Roy Hodgson's men certainly have the ability, but do they have the mentality? We'll find out once the tournament starts and it's fitting that they'll be up against France in their first game.
The lack of preparation time for Hodgson and the fact that England will be without their talisman Wayne Rooney for the first two games isn't ideal, but I fancy them to get to the quarter-finals and that wouldn't represent a bad tournament considering the circumstances.
Who's going to win the tournament?
Spain. They're the world and European champions for a reason and they have a team full of stars from Barcelona and Real Madrid. They'll be as fantastic to watch as ever.
Who will pose the biggest threat to them?
Holland. They showed at the World Cup in South Africa they've got the ability and mental strength to go all the way and I can see a repeat of the final two years ago.
Who will be the surprise package of the tournament?
I like the look of Croatia with Luka Modric in midfield and Nikica Jelavic up front, but there's something about Portugal which keeps jumping out at me. I think they'll give it a right good go with Cristiano Ronaldo really stepping up this tournament.
Who will win the Golden Boot?
Spain will create more chances than most teams, and I expect them to get to the final, so I have to go with Fernando Torres and, if he starts, I can see him scoring every game.
Who's your player to watch?
I really like the look of Mario Gotze for Germany. I saw him play for Borussia Dortmund against Arsenal and he was excellent, so I'll be interested to see how he does on the international stage. From an England point of view I think, given the right opportunity, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be the young star of the tournament. Theo Walcott went to the 2006 World Cup in similar circumstances, but unlike Sven-Goran Eriksson I think Roy Hodgson will be thinking 'I'm going to use this kid at every opportunity'. He didn't play a great deal of games towards the end of the season for Arsenal so he'll be fresh and, of course, you can play him in a variety of positions across the midfield. He could set this tournament alight.
How far will England go?
When you take seven or eight defenders and just four or five forwards, I don't think it gives you a great variety in attack and that will be England's greatest problem and that's why I don't think they'll go further than the quarter-finals.
Who will be England's star man?
There are some exciting players in the England team but Steven Gerrard is still the main man. If he is given a bit more freedom than usual - and England tend to suffocate him a bit - he is a match-winner.