With only a few days to go until England take on France in their opening game of Euro 2012, it is fair to say that it has been a mixed build-up for Roy Hodgson’s men, as Bet365 make England a value looking 2/1 to secure three points in against Laurent Blanc’s side.
Results wise, preparation has been more than adequate. Two 1-0 friendly victories against tough opposition have handed Hodgson a solid start to his England reign, although injuries have threatened to damage the momentum England have gained.
Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Gareth Barry have already been ruled out having originally been named in the squad, while Wayne Rooney will miss the first two games through suspension.
People are already questioning Hodgson too with his decision to call upon Martin Kelly to replace Cahill – rather than the experienced Rio Ferdinand – leading to plenty of criticism.
However, as mentioned, two victories and two clean sheets have been secured so far and if England continue in this way throughout Euro 2012, they will go much further than many expect.
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As for France, like England, they have won their last two friendly matches although the opposition weren’t quite as strong. Home victories over Iceland and Serbia have given Laurent Blanc’s men some momentum, if not the tough test to prepare for a major tournament.
Franck Ribery has been on the score sheet in both of these games too and he is bound to be a nuisance for the England defence when the two teams meet on Monday evening.
In fact, with around a week to go until France take on England, it seems fair to conclude that Hodgson’s defence – which has stood form so far – will face its biggest test yet against the likes of Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema and of course Ribery.
With France and England the two favourites to progress from Group D, this opening match really is a massive one for both sides. The winning team will be in a great position to progress, while the losing side will have to play catch-up.
England v France gets underway on Monday 11th June from 5pm.