As the 2012 European Championship kicks off this evening, here is a quick check on the 7 Manchester United players called up for their respective countries and an analysis on what impact they may have during the competition.
Anders Lindegaard (Denmark)
8 PL games, 6 clean sheets
An injury to Thomas Sorensen the day before the final squad was due to be announced has left Morten Olsen without his first choice goalkeeper. Kasper Schmeichel was drafted into the squad, leaving Stephan Anderson and Anders Lindegaard the front runners to start in goal versus the Netherlands on Saturday.
Anderson has been given the number 1 shirt and played the full 90 minutes in Denmark’s last pre-tournament friendly, a 2-0 win over Australia; giving us the impression that Anders Lindegaard will be the Dane’s backup goalkeeper in Euro 2012.
29 PL games, 8 goals, 10 assists
The Portuguese forward is set to start on the opposite flank to former United star Cristiano Ronaldo. This is Nani’s second senior international tournament following Euro 2008 after missing the 2010 World Cup. Four years ago, Nani’s only start came in Portugal’s final group game which was a 2-0 defeat to Switzerland and he only made substitute appearances in 2 out of Portugal’s other 3 games.
This time around, Nani will be looking to make an impact in this tournament as a starter. But it won’t be easy for the Portugal national team as they have the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark in their group, all of whom are above them in FIFA’s World Rankings with all 4 making the top 10. Coached by Paulo Bento, this team is well organised but struggles to compensate for the imbalance Ronaldo causes.
Ashley Young (England)
25 PL games, 6 goals, 7 assists
Ashley Young had a productive time during his first season at Old Trafford following his move from Aston Villa last summer. Predominately playing on the wing for United, Roy Hodgson has converted Young into a support striker/central attacking midfielder in his two friendlies in charge.
A very suitable player for Roy Hodgson’s counter-attacking style of play, Young can threaten opposition with his pace, close dribbling and accurate crossing ability. Judging by the warm up matches, he is set to be England’s best player this summer and is a good shot to finish as the nation’s top scorer with Rooney suspended for 2 games.
Wayne Rooney (England)
34 PL games, 27 goals, 4 assists
The England star will be suspended for their first two group means, meaning he misses out on games against France and Sweden. Provided England have something to play for in their final group game encounter with co-hosts Ukraine, expect Wayne Rooney to start.
Rooney scored 4 goals in this tournament 8 years ago and Alan Shearer is the only Englishman to have scored more goals in this tournament than him. He is coming off his best ever Premier League season, having scored 27 goals in 34 games for United. Roy Hodgson has moved Ashley Young into a support striker role for England, which will see the United pair team up for England’s final games in this tournament. A fearsome duo (or trio if he retains Welbeck too).
Danny Welbeck (England)
30 PL games, 9 goals, 4 assists
The young United striker is battling with Liverpool’s Andy Carroll to start England’s opening game with France. He put himself in contention with a fine finish in England’s last pre-tournament friendly, a 1-0 victory over Belgium.
Danny Welbeck scored 9 Premier League goals this past season in his first run out with United. He did frustrate fans with a number of one-on-one misses. Expecting his finishing to come better with age and experience, Welbeck should get a run out in Roy Hodgson’s side this summer with the possibility of start either or both the opening group games.
Phil Jones (England)
29 PL games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 12 clean sheets
Used as a utility man in his debut season at Old Trafford, Phil Jones has moved between centre back, right back and central midfield. Has been touted as a future captain of United in a season where he is played well for the majority of games with a few mistakes.
Phil Jones’ versatility may have encouraged Roy Hodgson to pick him for the tournament but with a number of injuries cropping up there’s a good chance the former Blackburn Rovers youngster will get a run out in June. England are short for quality at right back, have had knocks in midfield and are without Rio Ferdinand and Gary Cahill at centre back.
Patrice Evra (France)
37 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, 19 clean sheets
Patrice Evra is expected to be France’s starting left back for the Euro’s when they kick off their campaign against England on Monday. The United full-back played in 5 of France’s 10 qualifying games under Laurent Blanc and played 90 minutes in 2 of France’s 3 pre-tournament friendlies (missing out to Gael Clichy in a 2-0 victory over Serbia).
Provided he starts, Evra will be facing Premier League players in his first two games at this tournament. There’s potential for him to meet further along the way as France are being tipped as dark horse by many. Realistically, United’s only hope of a player coming home with a winners’ medal. Unless they sign a member of the German squad during the tournament…