Match: France v England
Venue: Dondbass Arena, Donetsk
Time/Date: 19:00 11th June 2012
England begin their European Championship campaign against France as they aim to become the first ever English side to win the tournament.
New England boss Roy Hodgson will go into the game without the services of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, who will start the first of his two game suspension, so much will depend on who England start up front. From their last friendly against Holland, of England three main strikers – Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Frazier Campbell – none have scored an International goal with only 7 senior caps between them. Expect the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott or Stewart Downing act as two of a three main front line with Andy Carroll filling in the number 9.
Following his role of captain against the Dutch last February, we’re expecting to see Scott Parker anchor the midfield alongside Frank Lampard allowing Steven Gerrard to support Carroll up front. The only question for the back four is whether or not Rio Ferdinand makes the plane to Ukraine. If the Manchester United centre half doesn’t make it, Chelsea duo John Terry and Gary Cahill should be the centre half partnership with Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole taking up the full backs spots.
For the French, they qualified top of Group D taking 21 points from a possible 30 following on from a disastrous World Cup 2010. New coach Laurent Blanc will be looking to recapture the form of the Euro 2000 side that went on to claim their second European Championship. The French coach will be delighted with his side’s form after their 2-1 win over Germany in Bremen in February. Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud scored his first international goal against the Germans while Chelsea wide man Florent Malouda continued his recent good form for the national side after scoring three goals in qualifying.
If France can get the likes of Samir Nasri, Franc Ribery and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema all fit and playing well, the French will fancy themselves to get off to the perfect start.