One of the oldest football rivalries will be revived when France tackle England at Donbas Arena in Donetsk in the opening match of Group D at the Euro 2012.
Les Blues have come a long way since being eliminated in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup, with boss Laurent Blanc doing brilliantly to get the national team on the right track after taking over the reigns from Raymond Domenech.
The former Bordeaux coach not only helped France win their Euro 2012 qualifying group, but also masterminded friendly wins over England, Brazil, Ukraine, Poland and Germany, thus showing les Bleus are again a real force to be reckoned with in world football.
France are currently on a 21-match unbeaten run and go into their opening game on the back of a four-match winning run, so odds of 2.50 (3/2) offered by Stan James on home win could be worth a shot.
Les Bleus have looked really sharp in recent warm-up games, with Karim Benzema scoring two beautiful goals in the final test against Estonia, and the Real Madrid forward is 3.30 (23/10) with Paddy Power to score against England as well.
Holding midfielder Yann M’Vila is unlikely to feature in this game as he struggles with an ankle problem, and Alou Diarra is tipped to replace him.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Lloris – Debuchy, Mexes, Rami, Evra – Cabaye, Diarra, Malouda – Nasri, Bezema, Ribery.
England boss Roy Hodgson and his players are adamant the Three Lions are serious title contenders for the European Championship title, but I seriously doubt anyone in their right mind would agree with this assessment.
The Three Lions easily qualified for the tournament finals and they showed some promise in friendly games as well, but preparations for the Euro 2012 haven’t gone as planned.
The boss first decided to leave Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards out of his final squad for the European Championship, before causing a lot of controversy by calling Liverpool’s Martin Kelly to replace the injured Gary Cahill.
His choice of central midfielders was also heavily criticized, with Liverpool flop Jordan Henderson called after both Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry were forced to withdraw because of injury.
Seeing that Wayne Rooney is also set to miss the first two group games through suspension, odds of 2.38 (11/8) offered by Stan James on England not to qualify look too good to pass.
Joleon Lescott looks set to partner John Terry in the absence of Gary Cahill, whereas Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll are vying for once place in attack.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart – Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole – Parker, Milner – Walcott, Gerrard, Young- Welbeck.