Many pundits agree that this year will be different. Rooney has calmed down, Gerrard and Lampard actually work together, and in Fabio Capello the team has found a coach that will keep players focused and determined. But recent events could have changed this. John Terry's off the pitch 'antics' have begged questions on how well the team gets along, while recent injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry could be hugely detrimental.
Don't get me wrong, England have a huge chance at succeeding, but a lot of different factors will have to come together to make it possible. The key is for Capello to keep the team in check, and utilize the strongest midfield in the game to their full potential. Once everyone is healthy (queue glare at Barry), the likely midfield would be Barry, Gerrard, Lampard, and Joe Cole with two strikers in front. However, I wouldn't discount the setup of:
J. Cole ----- Gerrard -----Lennon
Key Players: Wayne Rooney has the ability to contend for the most goals in the tournament. He is a classic striker in every sense of the word, a strong, powerful, attacker that has a good eye for goal. This past season at Manchester United has seen him in his prime and he will be keen to bring that to the national team.
Ashley Cole: Yes, he is key. A much-better-than-average defender, he is lightning fast on the flanks and will be essential to provide crosses into the box for the strikers and central midfielders. With Barry or Carrick potentially playing a holding-midfield role Cole will be able to constantly make these runs.
My Prediction: Semi-Finalists, going out on, yup you guessed it, penalty kicks.