thumbnail Hello,
Mata backs England as Euro 2012 contenders

Mata backs England as Euro 2012 contenders

Getty

The diminutive Chelsea playmaker goes into the major championships off the back of a successful first season with the west London club, and admits the Three Lions could do well

Chelsea and Spain playmaker Juan Mata has backed England to spring a surprise at Euro 2012, claiming that although they are not one of the favourites, they are in with a chance of making a big impression.

After Fabio Capello sensationally resigned when John Terry was stripped of the captaincy back in February, England go into the tournament with a new manager. But Mata believes the most important thing is not how Roy Hodgson adapts to the players, but how the players adapt to Hogson.

"I don't know whether the change of manager for England will affect the team," Mata told reporters.

"People say Hodgson's system is different to Capello. But the key is how the players will adapt."

After emerging triumphant in both the Champions League and FA Cup finals in his first season in England, Mata believes the qualities that he has seen from England's players will stand them in good stead during the tournament, admitting that they have a chance of winning the competition.

"For me, England will always be on the list of candidates for the title," he continued. "They have a great history and also the players are at a great level.

"England's strengths are the quality of players and the physical strengths in the team. They always fight for the ball. The desire is sensational.

"If Spain and England reach the final, I will come up against some of my Chelsea team-mates. But that is a long way ahead and our idea has not changed. We can only be focused on each match.

"After the Euros draw, we spoke a lot at Chelsea about possible matches. English players say they don't want us in the quarter-finals. But we looked at the draw and that will not be easy either."

One potential stumbling block that England will have to negotiate is the fact that star striker Wayne Rooney will miss the first two games through suspension, an issue Mata believes the side will do well to overcome.

He explained: "The absence of Rooney is very important for England's plans. That is bad for England but the coach has had time to look at solutions and look at ways to make it better for the team.

"Everyone says Spain, Germany and Holland are favourites for the title. But I wouldn't discount England or France, especially if they do well in the first phase."

Related

From the web