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An intriguing clash of styles awaits between two sides riddled with question marks
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England v France odds and preview

By prolifik on June 9th, 2012 in Worldwide football analysis 14 comments
England v France odds and preview
Key role - Ashley Young
The prevailing England v France odds reflect the general consensus that the opening game of Euro 2012's Group D is almost too close to call. That uncertainty is largely down to the difficulties in assessing two teams who have undergone major upheaval in recent years following crushing disappointments at major tournaments.  

France failed to get out of the group stage at both Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010, and ended the latter with a player revolt that left the nation humiliated and incensed. Not surprisingly, manager Raymond Domenech was dismissed, with Laurent Blanc his replacement. The former French international’s rebuilding efforts have borne mixed results – Les Bleus are unbeaten in 21 games, but questions remain about the solidity of their defence (goalkeeper Hugo Lloris aside) and the composition of their midfield.  

England didn’t even qualify in 2008, and two years ago a mediocre campaign was summarily ended by Germany in the second round. Fabio Capello remained in charge and comfortably qualified the Three Lions for Euro 2012, but the controversy surrounding John Terry’s removal as captain led to the Italian’s shock resignation in February. Roy Hodgson took charge just a month ago after a protracted delay on the part of the English FA, leaving precious little time for the ex-West Brom boss to mould an effective unit.  

Hodgson’s case has hardly been helped by a number of key absences. Midfielders Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere, and Gareth Barry and defenders Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling are all sidelined by injury, while talismanic striker Wayne Rooney is banned for the first two games after his foolish red card in qualifying. Centre-back Rio Ferdinand has been left out for political reasons relating to the Terry racism row. For France, right-back Bacary Sagna misses out altogether with a broken leg, while midfield dynamo Yann M’Vila is unlikely to feature against England due to an ankle complaint.  

Tactically and philosophically, the game seems set to be an interesting clash of styles. England will line up in a standard 4-4-1-1, with Ashley Young playing off a lone frontman (Danny Welbeck should get the nod over Andy Carroll). With inventiveness at a premium, they will look to be very much a typical Hodgson outfit: well-organised and tough to break down, with two banks of four working in tandem, and relying on quick counter-attacking – if Walcott starts on the right he will be key here, as will Young and Welbeck – and set-pieces to find the net.  

The French may not have the star power of years past, but they have a decided edge in technical ability. Blanc seems to have settled on a 4-3-3 system, with Yohan Cabaye and Florent Malouda the more attack-minded midfielders while Alou Diarra deputises for M’Vila in the holding role. Franck Ribery will play left of target-man Karim Benzema, with Samir Nasri expected to beat out Hatem Ben Arfa and Jeremy Menez for the right-sided berth.

Doubts persist about whether there is enough creativity and patience to break down a team like England that sets out to stifle them. At the back, either the pace of Welbeck or the sheer brute force of Carroll could trouble what looks a wobbly centre-back tandem of Adil Rami and Philippe Mexes; if Blanc opts for the out-of-form Patrice Evra over Gael Clichy on the left, Walcott can cause similar headaches out wide.  

Given the circumstances, Hodgson might settle for a draw, but this game could prove a referendum on how close France are to returning to the ranks of major contenders for international tournaments. A confident, cohesive display is needed to get the sceptical French public onside, whereas English expectations are unusually low this time around. With a number of intriguing contests on the slate for the opening round of Euro 2012, this one appears to be of particular interest for a variety of reas
By prolifik on June 9th, 2012 in Worldwide football analysis

England v France odds and preview
14 responses
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Which is so weird, because 99% of the dicssusion about football comes in the form of people second-guessing and talking about what they would have done differently or what went wrong.How would this hurt the league? People would stop watching or something? Such a bizarre thought process.
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Tom its not the youth system alone. Its the plearys who are not calm on the ball and feel like a bomb attached to their feet so they either lose it via poor pass or a long ball.Only Gerrard can fit when it comes to calmness and passsing. Others know F all. England cannot play good football with this bunch,
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