France v England (5pm KO, Live on ITV1)
England kick-off their Euro 2012 campaign with a really tough clash against the tournament third favourites and as far as the bookies are concerned it won’t be a winning one.
They are 3.2 chances with bet365 for victory, with France general 2.5 chances and the draw quoted at 3.2.
The Three Lions have become a disciplined, defensive unit who protect their goal above everything else since Roy Hodgson took over as gaffer, and are going to be severely tested by a quality packed side who have a potent striker in the shape of Karim Benzema.
They will be relying on counter-attacks to score and Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck have too pacey players capable of causing the French defence problems and bagging that all important goal.
Welbeck scored a sublime goal in their recent 1-0 win against Belgium in their final warm-up for this, and much now rest on his shoulders with Man United striking partner Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games.
However you have to feel that England will really be up against it to win this, and I am sure that if you gave Hodgson the option now he would settle for a draw.
France are unbeaten in 21 coming into the tournament and have only conceded four goals in qualifying.
Laurent Blanc’s side have too much quality in their ranks not to capitalise if England are careless with the ball, so it will be vital that the England midfield keep things tight.
If they can there is every possibility that they could get something out of this despite the fact that they are without a win in five against France in all competitions and have lost their last three.
No side scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes of qualifying games for Euro 2012 than England (6), and if they can get off to a flyer then you would think that one goal could be good enough.
England in the draw/no bet market at 2.1 with Boylesports and Paddy Power looks the best punt for patriotic punters, while if you are planning to back them to win outright a small bet on 1-0 at 7.5 in the correct score market with Paddy Power makes plenty of appeal.
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