June, 2016. It is a time of great hope and expectation, as millions of England fans saddle a bunch of young men (average age: 25) with the burden of undoing 50 years of terrible performances, terrible luck, and terrible haircuts, desperately willing them on to win the second biggest prize in international football after spending the last 8 months of the league season calling them useless wankers. England go into this year's tournament buoyed by new faces, new ideas, and a new set of forwards who genuinely could cause any defence trouble, Clive.
Heady times. But why get excited when you can use PES to see, before you book the tickets and slash a St George's cross into your chest, how well England are actually going to do? (We were going to use FIFA for this, but it doesn't have the license. Mercy.) Let's find out.
England's preparation for the first group game is rocked by the fact that someone (Konami) appears to have stolen their kit, meaning they've got to play in their old strip until the next update. This also means that there's been some confusion in the name and shirt-printing process, and so some of the players have weird numbers. Classic England: the papers will have a field day with that. Also of note is that, in the world of PES 2016, Dele Alli doesn't appear to exist in international football, which the press has described as a 'blow'. (NOTE: He is there, just under his full name, and not the one he's known as to millions of people. Chalk this one up as a hilarious, utterly 'England' management error.) ONWARDS.
Playing a 4-3-2-1 formation as suggested by the game, England start with Luke Shaw (miraculously back from injury), Smalling, Cahill and Clyne at the back. Wilshere, Dier, and Milner form the midfield three (hilariously, this is what the game suggests, so we'll go with it), with Vardy left wing, Kane through the middle, and Sterling right. Rooney, aggrieved at being dropped because he's not as good as these players anymore, smashes up an Irish bar and fights a police horse when he hears the news, and is left on the bench as the game begins.
England start well, knocking the ball about with 'tempo', and the travelling fans are in good voice. That is until the 22nd minute, when they inevitably go behind to an Aleksandr Samedov strike. Vardy loses possession in the midfield, the ball is clipped over Smalling's head, and while the Manchester United defender has plenty of time to 'deal with it' he controls the ball instead, enabling Samedov to sneak in and smash the ball past a furious Joe Hart. 1-0.
Unlike other England teams, however, this one actually seems to know how to play football, and should be level on 35 minutes when Kane, played in on the left hand side of the 18-yard box by a clever Vardy through ball, elects to shoot from a tight angle rather than square to an unmarked Eric Dier. It is saved, and Dier reflects on the fact he'll just have to piss in Kane's locker at Spurs rather than becoming a national hero. ONWARDS.
Things nearly get worse for England in the 40th minute, with Hart having to make another smart stop, but England keep their heads and get their reward in the 56th. Sterling, impressive all game as an extra man in midfield as well as a winger, wins the ball. Jack Wilshere, the world's oldest 24-year old, is back from the dead, Marlboro light hanging from his mouth, and flicks the ball forward to Kane. Loads of other shit happens, until Clyne beats two men on the right side of the box and squares for Vardy to rifle home from the penalty spot. England erupt. Dier pulls a knife from his sock – originally planned for an elaborate celebration where he pretended to 'be' Zorro – and stalks up behind Kane, but thinks better of it. 1-1.
The game settles, both teams knowing a draw is a good result, until suddenly the England defence are carved in two by an 89th minute through ball. Classic. Showing the grace and skill that has kept him at the top of the game, Cahill nearly goes off for a tackle from behind, but Artem Dzyubra keeps his feet, steadies himself, and shoots at Joe Hart. It's saved.
England breathe a sigh of relief, but the warning signs are there. Hodgson's team are good going forward, but if everyone in the world switched off with the efficiency and regularity of Smalling and Cahill, there would be no global warming. ONWARDS.
The big one. George vs The Dragon. Bale vs Everyone. Having won their first game, Wales can cement qualification and put a dent in England's hopes of doing the same. England's team formation is changed to 4-4-2 in order to represent Peak 'Our Lads'. It also means Sturridge, on the left, can play with Vardy and Kane up top. Sterling keeps his place. Wilshere and Barkley play in the midfield. The defence is unchanged. The game starts.
Wales make a lot of the early running, controlling the midfield. Bale finds himself taking up a lot of central positions, and is linking well with Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, who in this version of Euro 16 has hair that wasn't grafted on from surviving members of old Romania teams. Wales go close in the 24th minute with a Sam Vokes effort going wide. On 46 minutes England get another warning, as Jazz Richards skins Smalling and sees a deflected shot well saved from 12 yards. Half time.
England start the second half like the first: slowly. On 59 minutes Ramsey threads in Vokes, who again tests Hart. Corner. Bale floats it to the back post. The defenders are ball-watching like porn film cameramen, and Joe Ledley runs off of Cahill, outjumps Sturridge, and heads it home. 1-0.
England players look at each other. Rooney, on the bench again, goes so squat and red he's called up on trademark infringement by Coca-Cola. Roy looks remarkably calm, perhaps because, if it stays like this, he's already dead. On 66 minutes, Sterling and Clyne combine, the latter overlapping the former, who lays the ball back from the byline to Jamie Vardy. Vardy smashes the ball first time into the far corner, and celebrates with his usual restraint. Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey looks like he's been on the Hennessey: he's too far over to his near post. It's a blunder. 1-1.
The minutes tick by now, quick quick quick, the opposite of Wales's play. They're hanging on, knowing that – by virtue of having won their first game – they're still in the driving seat. Lallana replaces Sturridge on 80 mins, angering everyone but Lallana's mum. He gets a few more fans when Vardy, in space 30 yards out, plays a through ball which deflects directly into Lallana's path. Not even he can miss this one, and on 92 minutes he sidefoots it into the far corner.
Everyone goes mental. The game is won. ONWARDS.
The last group game is a foregone conclusion against one of the weakest teams in the competition. Or at least it should be. This is England, after all. 4-4-2 is retained, but Smalling is not, dropped in favour of John Stones. Luke Shaw also gets the chop, replaced by Danny Rose, because it's probably not fair to keep playing him if he's not in the actual team. Sorry about that. Rooney also starts, with the rumour going around being that he'd kidnapped Roy and had produced an Uzi, hoping to have a 'chat'. It seems to have worked, and is nothing to do with Sturridge losing form. Nuh-uh.
England buck the habit of a tournament by going ahead first, on 19 minutes. It's Vardy again, fresh from playing Diplomacy: Premier League Clubs edition, who slips two defenders with his back to goal, turns, and rifles into the bottom corner of the net. It's gone to the near post, but is too powerful for the Slovak keeper. 1-0.
Things get worse for Slovakia on 33 minutes. Stones, whose contribution so far is Not Fucking Up, decides to go for it, skipping tackles while facing his own goal. He gets away with it, passing to Barkley, who finds Sterling, who picks out Rooney, who is deeper than the shit his hair transplant surgeon is in. (Honestly, how many times has he gone bald now? Eight? Sixteen?) Rooney turns, and plays a delicious, defence-splitting through ball. Vardy is on it again, expertly smashing past the onrushing goalkeeper. 2-0. It's over, surely.
Nah. England are coasting now, but Slovakia aren't, putting together some slick passing. On 87 minutes Miroslav Stoch receives the ball at his feet 20 yards out. He controls it, flicking the ball into the box as he does so, before smashing it into the corner. Stones could have done better there, you know. Where's that Smalling lad?
England look nervy now, but it doesn't matter: from the kick off the lads knock the ball around well, with Clyne finding Sterling, who slips in – who else – Vardy, who whips a low finish into the far corner for the hat-trick.
The second round draw is kind, and England face Iceland at the Stade de France. The fans are so confident they've not even started drinking yet. A giant wicker Peter Andre is sacrificed before the match, as a precaution. The game kicks off. 15 minutes and 11 seconds later a deflected Milner pass finds Vardy with his back to goal on the penalty spot. He turns the defender, and slides the ball towards the far corner. It comes back off the post, but the keeper can't grab it and Vardy sticks it away.
The game is all England now, and on 37 minutes it's Harry Kane's chance at glory. He takes it – a static Iceland stand off while Vardy picks out the through ball, and the Spurs striker makes no mistake with a great low finish. It's all England, but on 45 minutes Gislason misses a golden chance to reduce arrears, heading straight at Joe Hart from a corner. England breathe again, and the half time whistle goes.
The second half passes without much incident, until the 73rd minute, when Finnbogason attempts the Borgetti impossi-header from a whipped left-side cross. Hart can only palm into the six yard box, but nobody is there. It's over. England are in the quarter finals. ONWARDS.
England have drawn Croatia, and if they get past them then there's a good chance of winning the tournament. Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, and Belgium are out. It's a high stakes affair, and the match begins like one too: very cagey, with England reluctant to press a Croatian midfield of Rakitic and Modric, who between them were on the winning team in the last two Champions League finals. Nobody wants to make the first mistake, but on 31 minutes it's Croatia who do just that.
Milner lofts a hopeful diagonal ball to the back post. Vida should deal with it, but miscontrols (Smalling actually applauds) and rolls the ball into Vardy's path. One side-footed finish to the far stick and England are ahead again. 1-0. The fans go insane.
Nothing much happens for a while: England sit off, but Croatia simply cannot get in the game. It takes them until the 47th minute to fashion a chance, when Modric nods miles wide from a cross. He should do better. 1-0, half-time.
The second half begins. Croatia still can't string two passes together. Rakitic looks rattled. The clock is ticking. England are in complete control with 13 minutes to plaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand they've fucked it. Croatia have scored. 1-1.
Danny Rose loses the ball going forward. A quick passing move sees Rakitic receive the ball on the edge of the box. He lays it off to Perisic, who hits a rasping, curling drive from 25 yards. It's moving away from Hart, but it's still close enough to save. Somehow the England number one gets his feet tangled and it flies past him.
Not a single England fan has their shirt on now. It's go time.
Croatia are on top, easily, and England are holding on. In the 82nd minute Badelj steps up into midfield and slides in the captain Vedran Corluka, who manages a quick wave to Daniel Levy before lobbing the advancing Joe Hart.
As the ball hits the net at least 25% of the English fans in attendance just melt to death. A worldwide tear shortage is announced, as eye water is now ferried to the situation developing in a football stadium in France. England go out, weakly, not even managing another attack. Television producers pop champagne and cue up the Sad Music to see out the telecast. Fergie laughs somewhere. England have gone out again in the second most England way possible: in the quarters after having led. It's brilliant. See ya. NOT ONWARDS.
Vardy wins the Golden Boot, and goes to Arsenal/stays at Leicester (delete as appropriate). Croatia go on to win the tournament, beating Poland 3-0 in the final, further rubbing it in. Roy is shot at dawn. Euro 2016 is over.