It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Old rivals France and England lock horns in the opening Group D encounter of Euro 2012 tonight. This game could decide who ends up topping this group and easing their way into the knockout phase. Besides, with the likes of Ukraine and Sweden making up the rest of this group, a slip up in this game could prove disastrous for either side.
With England's line-up missing a few key components, the lower-ranked French team has the perfect opportunity to register a big win. Having said that, the England team--which could be easily mistaken for a Liverpool XI--might just play to its potential, given that the weight of expectation is way lighter than usual!
Be sure to watch this game at 21:30 IST tonight!
Here's a list of all the crucial Euro 2012 group games.
Since their first meeting in 1923, England and France have faced off a total of 28 times. The English have dominated this rivalry with 16 wins as compared to the eight registered by Les Bleus--four games have ended in draws.
While the French have a poor head-to-head record against the English, they've been the superior team when it comes to the European Championships. France has won two out of its four Euro matches against England, while the other two were ties.
Also, going by recent record, France holds the edge. The last time England beat the French was back in June 1997--Les Bleus have won four out of the five games played between these two teams since; one game ended in a tie.
England will feel the pinch in their line-up as their main striker, Wayne Rooney is out due to a suspension. Even the midfield will be relatively barren with both Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry out for the tournament. Manager Roy Hodgson will have to rely on the the other Manchester United striker at his disposal, Danny Welbeck. Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker will be the key players in the midfield.
For the French, the experienced Franck Ribery should be able to carry forward his amazing club form. Apart from that, Les Blues also have a fully fit Karim Benzema, who can be quite a handful in the opponent's half.
While England is the higher-ranked side in this contest, the absence of key players makes it a very vulnerable unit. As a result, the odds have drastically swung in France's favor over the last few weeks.
It will take an extraordinary performance by Gerrard and co to overcome the French here. But as mentioned before, lowered expectations might just bring out a great performance from the Poms!
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