• Euro 2012

Hodgson wants great expectations

ESPN staff
June 20, 2012

Roy Hodgson has implored the English public to start believing the national team can win Euro 2012, as he feels his side will benefit from heightened expectations.

Hodgson was only appointed as England manager in May, and his initial squad for the Euros was disrupted by withdrawals - all of which led many pundits to write off England's chances of glory.

But they ended up finishing top of Group D with seven points, having beaten Sweden and Ukraine, and will now meet Italy at the quarter-final stage on Sunday.

England's defensive resilience has been widely praised, and the Three Lions are beginning to be discussed as potential victors - a situation Hodgson is more than happy with.

"I don't mind the expectation getting greater," he told BBC Sport. "I am really pleased about it. We have been very buoyed by the news from home and the people we meet here. Everyone seems to be becoming an England fan again.

"That is so important for us. If you are a football player or coach, you want people to appreciate you and get behind you, you want people to give you the feeling if I do have a bad game it is not going to be a catastrophe. There is more of that feeling and the players are responding. Long may that continue."

Meanwhile, captain Steven Gerrard, who has assisted three of England's five goals at the tournament so far, has warned against underestimating the Italians.

"It was fantastic to top the group and we need to enjoy it now but then dust ourselves down because it will be a very tough game against the Italians," Gerrard said. "They are a very tough team to beat. They are good defensively, have got a fantastic keeper in [Gianluigi] Buffon, and they've also got match winners in the ranks.

"They are similar to us and it will be a very close game. Let's not underestimate them one little bit. But, if we get that bit of luck and play well, I'm confident we can do well."

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