England v Russia Match Preview

Competition: European Championship
Fixture: England v Russia
Date: Saturday, June 11, 2016
Venue: Stade Vélodrome, Marseilles
Kick off time: 9:00 pm local time

England will begin their campaign in the Euro Cup 2016 on Saturday night by Russia in the Group B.

England’s form: W-W-W-L-W

After losing out in the first round of the 2014 World Cup and crashing out in the European Championships prior to that, Roy Hodgson has finally got himself a squad which is definitely capable of going the distance. Their performance in the Qualifiers was exquisite, having won all their 10 fixtures without any difficulties.

They spent their last few months preparing for the big tournament by competing with other nations in friendlies. Except a 2-1 defeat to Holland, they have a pretty spotless record. They defeated Germany by 3-2 in a drastic comeback, which they topped with a couple of victories by 2-1 against Turkey and Australia. Their last match was against Portugal, where they won by 1-0.

The Three Lions have got one of the most intimidating attacks in the tournament, especially with Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy scoring 49 goals each in the Premier League this season. However, the international experience which these players lack is compensated by Wayne Rooney in the forward, bearing 111 caps for his country. Their midfield appears to be equally formidable, especially with the 22 year old Eric Dier bringing in an immense momentum and thrust in the side. His Tottenham Hotspur teammate Dele Alli too has been equally impressive, and the duo is sure to start in the playing XI.

However, their defense is certainly a point of concern for Hodgson, which will get tricky as they enter the knock-out rounds. Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill are the only ones with considerable experience, but they need to figure out the other two players to strengthen their defense.

Hodgson enjoys playing 4-3-3 formation, and can easily switch to 4-4-2 midfield diamond when the situation needs it, especially when they need to make up for their defensive losses.

Russia’s form: D-L-L-W-L

Eight years back, when Russia made it to the semifinal in the Euro 2008, many would have expected them to continue playing in the same vein. However, their glory days are far over, as Russia struggles to regain their pride. Being the host nation of the next World Cup, they have got a lot of work cut out for them. Currently, they are ranked at the 29th place, which is just five places shy of their worst FIFA ranking.

The team are coping up with a new manager now – CSKA man Leonid Slutsky. He was brought in last July at a time when their hopes of making it to France were dwindling, but they managed to reach the main tournament by emerging as the runner-up in the Qualifiers.

Slutsky has attempted to bring in his strategies from his club and apply the same to the national squad. It hasn’t worked well for him, considering that he lost to Croatia, France and Czech Republic in the recent friendlies. Their last match prior to the big event was against Serbia, which they had to end on a mundane note with a 1-1 draw.

The entire Russia squad plays in the country’s domestic league, which means they have fairly less exposure than the players from England. The only way in which they can win here is having a strong defending wall and capitalizing on counter-attacks to exploit the Three Lions’ defensive lapses.

Key Players and Team News:

England:
Their hopes will undoubtedly rely on Kane and Vardy to dominate the attack just like they did in the Premier League. Both players have found their names on the score card in the past few matches, and are surging in with a terrific amount of momentum. Rooney’s job as the captain will be to ensure the discipline is always intact in the side.

In addition to the two Spurs men, James Milner will also have to play an important role in the midfield. He has been quite instrumental too to the national side, having played in three major tournaments till now. Being the second most experienced in the squad, Hodgson will be looking up to him to keep the midfield in line.

Russia:
They have got quite a few capped players, namely Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski, having more than 200 international caps between them. While their defense looks strong, it is the subsequent aspects in which they lag heavily. The FC Krasnodar duo Fyodor Smolov and Pavel Mamaev will be critical in leading the attack charge for the team.

Betting Advice:

This match is England’s to win. They have a much stronger squad with a lot of energy and momentum. They should win this one easily at 10/11. You can also expect them to keep a clean chit at 7/4 and Kane to be an anytime goal scorer at 11/8.