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England v France: Euro 2012 Preview

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Roy Hodgson has only had two matches in charge as England manager, and that is all the match practice he will get with his team before they face France in their opening group fixture of Euro 2012 on Monday.

History is against the Three Lions as they have lost 4 of their last 5 games against Les Blues. To make matters worse for Roy Hodgson’s men, the French will be coming into the game on the back of a 4-0 thrashing of Estonia, with impressive displays from Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery, extending Laurent Blanc’s unbeaten run with France to 21 matches.

On the surface at least, it seems a very tough match for England. But with football being football, anything could happen.

Team News

England

Gary Cahill (jaw), Frank Lampard (thigh), Gareth Barry (stomach) and John Ruddy (finger) are all ruled out of the tournament through injury.

But the good news for England is that all of the current 23-man squad took part in training on Tuesday and have flown out to their base in Krakow today, with all players expected to be fit for the first game against France.

Chelsea centre-back John Terry was the main concern for Roy Hodgson’s side with a hamstring scare but has been declared fit for the competition.

France

Unlike England, France have had just one major injury concern, with striker Loic Remy ruled out of the tournament with a hip injury.

Remy was in Laurent Blanc’s 26-man provisional squad for the tournament, but despite undergoing intensive rehabilitation at Clairefontaine (France’s national football centre), he wasn’t able to make the final 23.

When the final squad was announced on 29 May, defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and perennial unlucky-man Yoann Gourcuff were the unfortunate ones to also miss the cut.

Since the final squad was announced, France have come through their last two friendlies unscathed.

Final Squad For Euro 2012:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Cedric Carrasso

Defenders: Patrice Evra, Mathieu Debuchy, Philippe Mexes, Adil Rami, Gael Clichy, Anthony Reveillere, Laurent Koscielny

Midfielders: Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Valbuena, Blaise Matuidi, Yann M’Vila, Alou Diarra, Marvin Martin, Hatem Ben Arfa, Florent Malouda

Forwards: Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Jeremy Menez

Recent Form

England

England go into Euro 2012 and their first match against France on the back of an unbeaten qualifying run, having ended Group G as winners after winning five and drawing three of their eight matches.

Highlights include convincing wins against Bulgaria (4-0 at home and 3-0 away) and an impressive 3-1 victory away to Switzerland.

However, that was all under Fabio Capello, while with Roy Hodgson in charge, the Three Lions have laboured to 1-0 wins against Norway and Belgium, respectively.

Their form going into the match against Les Blues is solid, bu unspectacular.

Psychologically, it could give the England players a boost, knowing they’re a more defensively tight unit under Hodgson less likely to concede goals.

However, the team’s recent form won’t strike much fear into their opponents.

France

France will go into the tournament on the back of scoring nine goals in three matches, after warming up for the finals in Poland and Ukraine with wins over Iceland, Serbia and Estonia.

Having also beat Germany in a friendly away back in February, France will go into the tournament full of confidence having won all their games so far in 2012.

Key Players

England

Ashley Young

Manchester United winger Ashley Young could be England’s most important player in the game against France.

Most likely to be playing as the support-striker behind Andy Carroll, almost all of England’s forward play will go through Young, who’ll be tasked with linking-up with Carroll to create chances for himself and the striker, as well as receiving the ball from central midfield and trying to make as many key passes in the final third as possible.

Having scored six and assisted six from 21 England caps, with or without Wayne Rooney, Young could be the key player for the English through the tournament.

Scott Parker

France under Laurent Blanc have undergone a football revolution, switching to a much more passing style of play. Therefore, if England is to disrupt France’s rhythm—a tactic manager Roy Hodgon loves to implement against his opposition—then Tottenham Hotspur holding midfielder Scott Parker will be vital to Hodgson’s plans.

Joe Hart

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart will also be a vital player for England. Why? Because he’ll be up against some of Euro 2012’s most in-form attackers in Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Olivier Giroud.

France

Franck Ribery

Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery will be the most important player for France in their opening game against England.

The 29-year-old has had a good season in the Bundesliga, scoring 12 goals and making 12 assists, and will carry that form into Euro 2012, especially after scoring in all three of Les Blues’ preparation matches.

Karim Benzema

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will spearhead France’s attack, and his ability to create a goal or key pass with just an inch of space will see him be one of France’s biggest threats in the game against England and the rest of the tournament.

From 52 games for Real Madrid this season, Benzema has scored 32 goals and made 15 assists.

Hugo Lloris

France’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, like his English counterpart Joe Hart, will also be a key player in this match, and that’s because of two things.

Firstly, he’ll face a considerable number of shots from the very much in-form Ashley Young, who’s position between the lines will make him a nightmare to man-mark. And secondly, with central defence France’s weak point, the whole nation will be looking to the Lyon keeper to stop the goals flooding in.

Talking Tactics

The game between France and England will see two similar formations but two very different tactical approaches.

Roy Hodgson’s England will be a very tight and efficient unit, and at times in the game, a back five or back six may be visible.

The Three Lions will also rely on quick breaks, counter-attacking through the middle and on the wings with the pace of Theo Walcott, Stewart Downing out wide and Ashley Young through the centre.

Laurent Blanc’s France, on the other hand, will seek to dominate possession, passing the ball around the midfield and building up play, giving players time to pick out runs in the final third and stretch the English defence to create openings.

England

England manager Roy Hodgson will most likely set up his team in his favoured 4-4-1-1 formation, with Ashley Young playing the supporting role behind a hold-up striker like Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll.

Joe Hart is the automatic choice in goal given his experience and world-class ability, while the back four will undoubtedly consist of experienced players—especially since the first game could be the most important for England.

Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson are automatic choices for the full-back slots, while John Terry is England’s most experienced centre-back and Joleon Lescott’s England’s most in-form at the moment.

While in midfield, Hodgson will look for pace on the wings with Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing—the latter being picked over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain again due to his experience.

This speed on the flanks will nicely supplement two deep-lying play makers in Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker—with captain Gerrard given more license to get forward and lead in attack as well as defence, while Parker will stay a bit more disciplined and give greater focus to breaking up France’s play and winning back possession for his team.

France

France manager Laurent Blanc has one similarity with England boss Roy Hodgson—they both prefer a similar formation.

However, unlike the defence-minded Hodgson, attack-minded Blanc likes his set-up to be more of a 4-2-3-1 than a 4-4-1-1.

Hugo Lloris, Patrice Evra, Mathieu Debuchy, Alou Diarra, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema are all automatic choices due to their experience and form.

However, some positions aren’t so clear, especially at centre-back. It’s believed Blanc will go with his favoured pairing of Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami, due to their experience, but the duo haven’t been great for club and country in recent years, with many clamouring for Blanc to take a chance on the much-improved Laurent Koscielny.

That would be a risky choice, however, given Koscielny’s international inexperience and occasional nerves on the big stage.

While in midfield, the Steven Gerrard-esque role in the two-man central midfield is up for grabs. Yann M’Vila is expected to play there, but Yohan Cabaye has had much the better season for his club, Newcastle United.

The attacking midfield is also the cause of some debate in France, as while Mathieu Valbuena is a consistent performer for national side, the competition is big—with Hatem Ben Arfa, Marvin Martin and Jeremy Menez all enjoying great campaigns.

What will England have to do to beat France?

Trust In Hodgson

A change of manager is almost always a culture shock.

England certainly did not make the switch from Fabio Capello to Hodgson in such a fashion, and the players are said to have struggled with the new boss’s rigorous and repetitive training methods.

However, two workmanlike 1-0 wins in warm-up games against Norway and Belgium indicate that his methods are reaping rewards, after a fashion, and the players must trust in their manager to set the team up as he sees most fit.

Give Ashley Young Creative Freedom

A major handicap for England in their first European Championship campaign for eight years is the loss of their star striker, Wayne Rooney, who is suspended for the first two matches of the group stage. In his absence there is a glaring deficiency up front, both in terms of goals and creativity.

That is where Rooney’s Manchester United teammate Ashley Young comes in. The 26-year-old’s international career has blossomed during England’s qualification campaign, scoring three goals and setting up another three as England topped their group.

Having played a part in five England goals in their past five games, Young is the perfect player to fill the vacancy left by Rooney and support the main striker against France.

Consistency is Key

Hodgson is not renowned as the most versatile of managers. He values persisting with a well-drilled first 11 and challenging the opposition to try and break them down.

Like many other teams ranked far below them in the world, Belgium were by far the technically superior in their recent visit to Wembley and controlled the possession. England concentrated their efforts on containing their opponents and hitting them on the counter, and they were rewarded with a 1-0 win.

That certainly seems to be England’s best bet if they hope to defeat France, too. A midfield base of Scott Parker and James Milner and a quick but hard-working front line of Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young appears to be the best England can do with the tools at their disposal.

The injury to Gary Cahill sustained in that match will necessitate a change in defence, but otherwise England would benefit from staying consistent in their team selection.

Stop Karim Benzema

Stopping the opposition’s star striker may be one of the most obvious game plans, but when it comes to Benzema it is imperative England limit his opportunities as much as possible.

The 24-year-old has just finished his best ever season at club level, scoring 21 league goals for Real Madrid as they won La Liga as well as netting seven and setting up another five in the Champions League, making him more productive in Europe than even Cristiano Ronaldo.

The former Lyon striker opened the scoring in a 2-1 friendly win at Wembley the last time France played England, and his brace in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Estonia suggest he will carry that form with him onto the international stage.

Play the full 90 minutes

The last time these two sides met each other in a competitive match was at Euro 2004, when they also faced off in their opening group match.

Frank Lampard’s first-half goal for so long looked like claiming a major win over the reigning European champions, only for Zinedine Zidane to score twice in second-half stoppage time to break English hearts.

England still progressed from their group after beating Croatia and Switzerland, but their punishment for letting that lead against France—and consequently, top spot in the group—slip from their grasp was a quarterfinal against hosts and Group A winners Portugal, which they lost.

Should a similar set of circumstances play out this summer, England would be destined for a meeting with defending champions Spain.

Conclusion

France will no doubt dominate possession with their emphasis on passing and will end up with more shots on goal and possibly more corners and free-kicks.

However, with Roy Hodgson an expert on creating tight defences to weaken the threat of sides relying on technical ability, England could end up having the better day come next monday.

Psychologically, France will go into the game in the ascendancy thanks to their better form, but if England stifle their play within the first 20 minutes, frustration could easily creep into their game and cause them to waste chances.

If that happens—and it is a big possibility—then the game could become England’s to lose, especially with their ability on the counter-attack, the form of Ashley Young and the weak form—and mental state—of France’s defence.

I think France will just edge this match, but I would love to see and England win!

Chris is the founder of The Boot Room. He is a Swindon Town supporter, having lived in Wiltshire for most of his years. His work has also featured on Squawka, Bleacher Report and Eurosport.

Arsenal

Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.

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Arsenal
Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

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Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad

Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.

Mathew Nash

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England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.

With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.

So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?

It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.

However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.

Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.

So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?

GOALKEEPERS

Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Butland

What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.

Angus Gunn

The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.

Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.

DEFENDERS

John Stones

Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.

If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.

Harry Maguire

Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.

Joe Gomez

Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.

Jamaal Lascelles

For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.

Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Dael Fry

The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.

A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.

Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.

FULL-BACKS/WING-BACKS

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.

Jonjoe Kenny

A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.

Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.

A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.

He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Joe Bryan

This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.

But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.

Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell

MIDFIELDERS

Lewis Cook

Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.

Harry Winks

Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.

Phil Foden

England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.

Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.

Dele Alli

May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.

If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.

Jesse Lingard

Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?

Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.

James Maddison

A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.

The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.

Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,

FORWARDS

Raheem Sterling

He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.

Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.

If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.

Ademola Lookman

Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.

This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.

Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?

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Three Everton players who could help England bring football home in 2022

Everton have a long list of top talents coming through that could make it into the England team.

Mathew Nash

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England are out of the World Cup following defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals last night. But the future looks bright for England. They had the second youngest team in the tournament and are the current under-20 and under-17 World Champions.

So who could help them bring football home at Qatar 2022?

When looking at Everton’s current crop, it is hard to pick just one.

Ademola Lookman is an excellent attacker, although could be on his way. Callum Connolly’s versatility makes him a manager’s dream whilst Tom Davies had a brilliant 2016-17 season, even if last term was less impressive.

But here are the three Everton players who might have a chance of heading to Qatar in four years time.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Like England’s summer hero Harry Maguire the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Sheffield United. Since joining Everton his progress has been astonishing.

He is already a hero for England. He scored the winner for England’s under-20s last summer as they won the World Cup.

With striking positions set to be up for grabs in four years time, DCL will no doubt be in the running.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Kieran Dowell

The spindly playmaker is adored in the England and Everton set-ups for his God-given natural talent.

Stormed into a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, which admittedly dwindled toward the end.

But with his dexterity and ability, only injury and himself could hold Dowell back from making it to Qatar.

(during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Leicester, England.

Jonjoe Kenny

Dowell’s best mate and England’s trusted right-back at youth level. His cross-city rival Trent Alexander-Arnold may be catching the eye but Kenny is no slouch.

An exquisite crosser of the ball and defensively sound he is the Trippier if Alexander-Arnold is the Walker of England’s future right-back choices.

Like Dowell, eligible for Ireland, so England, must ensure the Everton pair are aware of their pathway.

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