We’ve taken a look at every European Championship winning squad since 1996 to find out.
Germany ruined England’s ‘football’s coming home’ tournament in 1996, using a squad with an average age of 27.91 years and 664 international caps. Following that tournament the benchmark for a winning squad continued to be around 28 years old, with France and Greece winning the next two European Championships with at least 700 caps.
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Spain then bucked the trend in 2008. After years of nearly moments, their ‘golden generation’ won comfortably with only 535 caps and average age of 26.
One of the key takeaways from this data is when Spain retained their title in 2012. They more than doubled the amount of caps in their squad, retaining most of their senior players in the interim four years but only increased their average age by 0.74 years. This shows that Spain have been good at keeping faith with the experienced players that have served them well but also at freshening their squad and giving a chance to younger players to increase their experience.
Germany are similar in this regard and this is where I feel England fall down. Germany’s squad this year has an average age of 25.52 and are the youngest squad at the tournament but have an astonishing 956 caps between them - best odds on Germany to win outright are 23/5 at Marathon Bet. are Compare that with the England squad’s average of 491 caps with an average age of 25.39. If you took Wayne Rooney’s caps out of that equation you would be left a poultry 382 caps. Only Albania (515 caps) and Romania (531 caps) are less experienced than England.
Yes England are giving youth a chance but it seems not early enough and not retaining enough experienced players. The players in this England squad should be forming the basis of the squad over the next couple of years and when the World Cup in 2018 starts we should have a squad akin to Spain and Germany’s at this year’s competition, with the quality and experience to go all the way.
In this tournament though, I think England have a great chance of getting to the latter stages but winning the title will be too much too soon.