England’s friendly game with France at Wembley on Tuesday night would have been a meaningless contest, something I touch-on in one of my previous articles.
However, the game has taken on huge importance since the terror attacks on Paris on Friday night.
The actual action on the field will seem slightly meaningless, but the unity showed in the stadium will be the key factor in what will now be a chance for English fans to show their support for their shocked European neighbours.
A chance for unity
I recently read a superb article by one of my favourite football writers Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail. As I understand it, Martin writes that football will always win against terror, as football fans will not let the callous few terrorists disrupt their everyday routine.
His article, contained similar sentiments to the ones that conveyed in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, albeit in a far cleverer way.
The England v France friendly match has become a chance to show those who think that they can win a pointless battle, that England stands together with their European allies and that it will do everything it can to support them.
England fans have been urged to sing the French national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’, which under any other circumstances would be unlikely. However the attacks in Paris seem to have raised a new empathy within the British people for their European cousins.
Doubts about the game
In the aftermath of what happened in Paris there were question marks about tonight’s friendly taking place. French captain and ‘keeper Hugo Lloris of Tottenham had this to say on the matter: “It’s only human to have a few doubts, whether to play or not,”
“We had some concerns but in the end the president confirmed we had to play this game. Like all my team-mates, I respect his decision. It will be a good opportunity to represent our country: the French nation is more important than French football on Tuesday.
“We have had three days of mourning back at [the national team’s training base] Clairefontaine, talking among ourselves as a group.
“It’s been very difficult, very dramatic, and this period has been very tough for the victims, their friends and families, and our country. The only thought we can have is to play football and try to escape it all for 90 minutes during the game, because there will be a lot of emotion. It will be a great moment of solidarity and we have to try to stay focused on playing for our country, playing for the victims. That is all we can do.”
Belgium’s game with Spain on Tuesday night has been called-off due to security concerns. There have been a number of arrests in Belgium following Friday night’s attacks, so it is understandable that there would be safety concerns regarding the game in Brussels.
There is a game being played
It seems almost perverse to talk about the game taking place this evening, but there is one being played so I suppose I should also talk about that for a second.
England heads into the game with a number of injury problems and 17 potential first team players missing. Leicester’s in-form striker Jamie Vardy and Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick will both miss out through injury.
Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard and Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason have both been called-up to the squad. The England team that takes to the field against France is unlikely to resemble the side that are likely to feature at next year’s European Championships in France.
England’s 15 game unbeaten run came to an end last time out with a 2-0 defeat against former world champions Spain in Alicante. In contrast Les Bleus defeated Germany 2-0 at the Stade de France last time out to make it five consecutive wins.
England have failed to defeat France since 1997, but even if the Three Lions record a win in this clash it will overshadowed by the occasion.
At the end of the day football is just a part of the entertainment industry, a way to while away time, but it has the fantastic power of being able to unite people. There will be few people who care much about the result at Wembley.
Events on Friday night have rendered the result unimportant. However the lasting memory of the game will hopefully be the unity of two of Europe’s biggest nations against terrorists. To quote Martin Samuel they will not win and that should be what is taken from tonight’s proceeding at Wembley, regardless of the result.
Will tonight’s game at Wembley send out a message of unity to the world?