England vs France: Euro 2012 Preview
Posted on June 9, 2012 by Abdul Khaled
England get their Euro 2012 campaign underway on June 11th against the old enemy France. There have been many classic encounters between these two rival nations and hopefully they can kick start Group D with another game to remember.
England head into this summer’s tournament on the back of a disastrous World Cup that was only made better by the fact that the French had an even worse tournament. In-fighting, training boycotts and player expulsions led France into turmoil and turned them into a laughing stock. Fast forward two years and with a new President and Manager on board, the French national team has transformed into a solid cohesive unit that demands discipline from their manager Laurent Blanc.
Blanc has almost completely revamped the French squad bringing in a new wave of exciting young talent and basing his team principles around the core of respect. In comparison England have also hired a new manager, but the appointment of Roy Hodgson that has failed to excite many fans and despite having two consecutive 1-0 victories under his belt there has been little to please the eye going forward.
Seen as the ‘safe option’ Hodgson has already created a hard to beat England side, and if we end up winning the tournament (ambitious I know) then none of us will be complaining. If we don’t do well, however, then expect the criticism to come your way Mr. Hodgson.
To be fair to Hodgson his task was a near impossible before he even took the job. The whole nation wanted the job to go to Harry Redknapp, and ever since the job went to the less favoured Hodgson comparisons immediately started. Hodgson’s squad announcement prompted huge debate with many wondering what sort of squad Harry would’ve picked.
Six Liverpool players managed to creep into the final squad and many still can’t figure out how. And then came the whole Rio Ferdinand debacle. Needless to say the whole build up to this tournament has been nothing short of a disaster for England, and who better to understand such shambles then the French? Les Bleus managed to come out the other side stronger and now have a squad in place that can give England a right old scare in the opening round of fixtures.
Competition for places is fierce in the French squad especially in the defensive positions. Old heads Patrice Evra and Phillpe Mexes find themselves under increasing pressure from Gael Clichy and Laurent Koscielny, who are both pushing for a start against England. Moving into the midfield and the loss of Yann M’Vila to injury is a massive blow to the French system. The defensive midfielder, who is also a target for Arsenal, fits perfectly into the French 4-3-3 system as the enforcer of the team.
M’Vila’s absence will mean that Alou Diarra will deputise alongside Yohan Cabaye, who is slowly proving to be a top class player and decent performance in the tournament may well spark interest from Europe’s top clubs. France have a lot of options in attack which is likely to be led by Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid front man has finally managed to fulfil his potential at both club and country level. Benzema is likely to be supported by Frank Ribery and Samir Nasri, with the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Jeremy Menez and Oliver Giroud all providing possible options from the bench.
In regards to England, Roy Hodgson will stick to his 4-4-1 formation with Ashley Young supporting the lone front man. Andy Carroll is likely to get the nod ahead of Danny Welbeck despite Welbeck’s impressive winner against Belgium last week. Carroll will be brought into the side to provide England with a target man and an aerial threat.
James Milner and Stewart Downing are likely to be deployed on the wings, being the ‘safer’ options ahead of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxalade-Chamberlain. Jolean Lescott looks set to partner John Terry at the back with Ashley Cole and Glenn Johnson completing the back four. Joe Hart will keep goal while Steven Gerrard will captain the side in centre midfield alongside Scott Parker.
Who do you think will win this one? Our expert pundit, ex-England Viv Anderson, is going for a bore 0-0 draw. Daily Sport babe GiGi Petite is more optimistic about England’s chances, however, predicting a 2-0 victory for Hodgson’s side. Place your own FREE Match Prediction!