Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 19/20
Following some promising showings in the final warm-up games, England take on injury-hit Russia in their opening Euro 2016 fixture, hoping to enjoy a winning start to the campaign. Sbornaya Komanda have so far lost four players through injury, but they, nonetheless, have the quality and experience to make this game very interesting.
Seeing as how they tend to fail to live up to the billing at major competitions, England fans are just cautiously optimistic about their team’s chances at the Euro 2016, despite the fact that this has been one of the best sides in years. Roy Hodgson was brave to give some rising stars a chance to shine, and we now have Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane all emerging as regular starters, and even Marcus Rashford in contention for a starting berth. Even if the Three Lions were the only side to record all 10 wins in the qualifying campaign, it was their performances in international friendlies that made everyone stand up and take notice, with victories over France, Germany and Portugal enough to suggest Roy Hodgson’s men could have important role to play in France. While the confidence is sky high after the latest results, another good news is that there have been no fresh selection problems, although the likes of Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge all appear to lack match fitness. The manager still needs to decide whether to continue with Kane and Vardy up front and Rooney behind them, given that the trio did not actually clicked in the Portugal game.
Roy Hodgson appears to have reverted to the 4-4-2 diamond formation, but it remains to be seen whether Wayne Rooney will be used at the tip of the diamond, or maybe replace Vardy up front.
With both Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere struggling for fitness, James Milner should partner Eric Dier in the middle of the park.
Russia were on the verge of missing out on a place at the Euro 2016 finals following some shocking performances under Fabio Capello, and the national team chiefs appear to have handed the reigns to Leonid Slustky in the nick of time. The CSKA Moscow boss managed to sort out the national team with incredible ease, and in no time, Sbornaya Komanda were producing performances that were always expected of them. The team won last four matches to secure an automatic qualifying berth and they soon began preparations for the tournament finals. But, just as it seemed that Russia could go far in France, the likes of Alan Dzagoev, Yuri Zhirkov and Oleg Kuzmin all picked up serious injuries and were subsequently ruled out from contention. Slutsky the had another important player Igor Denisov suffer an injury in the final warm-up game against Serbia, meaning he, too, misses the tournament in France. And while said injury problems could destabilise Sbornaya Komanda, the reality is that they still have plenty of quality among the ranks, and we believe they can progress from Group B. However, after failing to win any of last three games, the question is whether they can match high-flying England at Stade Velodrome.
Dmitri Torbinski and Artur Yusupov were called to replace Alan Dzagoev and Igor Denisov, with Oleg Kuzmin and Yuri Zhirkov also missing out.
Denis Glushakov and Vasili Berezutski should be fit to play after recovering from knocks, while Pavel Mamaev is tipped to partner Aleksandr Golovin in midfield.
Key Factors to Consider
- Russia and England have one win each in past meetings
- Russia progressed from group stage at just one major competition
- Sbornaya Komanda are missing three first team regulars
- Both teams scored in four of Russia’s last five matches
- England won five of last six friendly fixtures
England have been in fine form of late and they head into their opening fixture full of confidence. Meanwhile, Russia have all sorts of problems with injured players and having failed to impress in recent friendlies, we don’t think they can get anything from this game.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 19/20