Saturday, 26 May 2012

Who to put your Mortgage on

When a striker escapes a rigid defence and bears down on goal, this is his one chance for glory, but who would you put your proverbial mortgage on burying a one-on-one chance at the Euros?

He may have scored 71 goals this season, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s form for Portugal is far from record-breaking.

Seven goals saw Ronaldo placed joint-third in Euro 2012 qualifying, but his shot-to-goal ratio is staggeringly poor. 41 shots yielded seven goals, almost one in six efforts.

There are more clinical players than Ronaldo. Miroslav Klose’s nine goals from 12 shots on target is prolific, but he did squander wide a further 10 in qualifying. The same can be said of Robbie Keane, who finished seven of 28 chances.

The man to put your mortgage on is Jermain Defoe, with three in two games for England during qualifying. Although he may not start in Ukraine and Poland, you can rely on Defoe to come on and sneak home a crucial goal.

He was one of just three England players to score at the 2010 World Cup, and is the archetypal nippy striker that slips from his man at the opportune moment. Unfortunately, he has struggled to hold down a starting place at Spurs; his style not suited to the 4-5-1 of England.

Defoe’s role is a super sub. When Emile Heskey ran through on goal against the USA, two years ago, there was only hope that he would bury the chance rather than expectation.

Defoe carries expectation in front of goal, as much as Keane, Klose, or Huntelaar, and, like all three, he usually takes his chance.

And this is what England need. In a creatively restricted team against deep-defending opposition, Defoe, more than anyone, is the man to tuck away that single, golden opportunity, amongst a deluge of dross.

Defoe has a lot on his plate, if he hopes to change England’s reputation as a competition ‘also ran’. Check out the Euro 2012 odds, to see just how dismal England’s chances are, this summer.