11th June 2012
Euro 2012 draw decided that rivals France and England face each other in the opening game of Group D, and needless to say a fiery encounter is expected at glorious Donbas Arena in Donetsk. Both sides have their worries ahead of the derby game, but les Bleus clearly go into the match in better spirits than their opponents.
Laurent Blanc needed some time to rebuild les Bleus following the controversial reign of Raymond Domenech, and the former Bordeaux coach has done brilliantly to get the national team where they belong in such a short period of time. Spain may have lost their first two games under Blanc, but they have since went on 21 games without losing and deservedly qualified for the European Championship. The talented coach has created a great system and found a perfect position for every single player, which is the main reason why the likes of Clichy, Diarra, Nasri and Malouda do much better when playing for France than when they feature for their respective clubs. In Benzema, Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Ribery, France have players who are full of confidence after the great season on club level, but the entire team are in great mood after winning their last four games. with only Yann M’Vila doubtful through injury, les Bleus look like they can get one over their bitter rivals in Donetsk.
When the Euro 2012 draw was made in December, England fans probably thought their beloved team would have no problems qualifying for the quarter-finals, but a lot has changed since and the Three Lions now have a tough task ahead of them. Injuries to Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill were always going to create a problem, but the big issue came up when the likes of Martin Kelly and Jordan Henderson were called as replacements. Rather than opting for more experienced players who would really be able to help the team when things get tough, Roy Hodgson has called up two players who probably won’t get a single minute of playing time. The problems don’t end there as Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two group games, with Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck vying for one place up front. On top of that, the Three Lions were far from impressive in final two warm-up games, so I really doubt they can match an in-form France side.
It is more than clear that France are in much better shape of the two sides, and with les Bleus going into the game with their strongest line-up, they’ve got to be considered favourites for the win. Severely weakened England clearly face a tough task in Donetsk and the five-match winless run against France looks likely to continue.
Verdict: France Draw no bet
Best Odds: 2/3