It is eight years since England and France met in a major tournament and there is no doubt that this Monday’s clash at Euro 2012 will be as competitive as ever, as the majority of bookmakers make England 2/1 shots (best price with Paddy Power) to start off their campaign with a win.
In Euro 2004, these two teams met in their first game of the tournament and it was France that emerged as 2-1 winners. England took the lead through Frank Lampard, but France turned things around largely thanks to Zinadine Zidane.
Eight years on and everything is very different. New managers, new players and new hope surround both of these European giants as they look to improve on disappointing 2010 World Cup campaigns.
Looking at England to begin with, they are coming into this tournament with a fresh approach under manager Roy Hodgson. The main objective is to be hard to beat, a quality highlighted in the 1-0 friendly victories over Norway and Bulgaria.
A repeat of this score line on Monday evening is perhaps a decent shout for those betting on the game and it is available at 7/1. England to win the game on the other hand is 2/1.
This means that France are the favourites to start Euro 2012 with a win. Laurent Blanc’s men are 8/5 to win on Monday and this has a lot to do with their attacking talent.
England’s defence may well have been solid under Hodgson so far, but with Gary Cahill out, England need to be on their toes to stop the likes of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema.
There appears to be a ‘no fear’ feel to this France team too and they will be positive from the first whistle. Playing with freedom, they are a decent shout for success this summer and certainly provide England with a stern test.
It should end up being an extremely competitive game though. Neither side will want to lose the opening game as doing so makes qualification from the group that much harder.
It gets underway at 5pm on Monday evening.