So it begins, England’s campaign for Euro 2016 glory with all the usual hopes and fears that accompany a major international football tournament. The England fans have been making friends and influencing people in Marseille over the last few days, and everyone will be hoping the English football can do the talking in the Stade Velodrome. A strong win and performance in the opening game against Russia is exactly what Roy will be hoping for, knowing that an intense crunch game with Gareth Bale (sorry Wales!) waiting in the next game. Can England’s young lions grasp the chance and march to Euro 2016 glory?
Even the most pessimistic England fans would concede that England have played with a freedom, flair and exuberance not seen in decades. There appears to be a genuine hunger and aggression to get the job done. Meanwhile Russian build up has been pretty muted, with noticeable absentees through injury including Alan Dzagoev, Igor Denisov and Yuri Khirkov.
The recent form between the two teams hardly gives us much comfort in predicting what might happen in this game. England last placed Russia in Euro 2008 qualifying, in which England won 3-0 at Wembley and lost the return game 2-1. Before that England last met USSR in the European Champions in 1988, where USSR won 3-1. England’s recent form has been strong with 8 wins from the last 10 games, and winning 10 out of the last 10 competitive games. While Russia’s form has been rather patchy with 6 wins and 4 defeats in their last 10 games.
Russia are being led by the youngest coach at Euro 2016, Leonid Slutsky, who is 45 years old (just fives older than the oldest player at Euro 2016, Gabor Kiraly). The Russian team as a whole looks fairly ordinarily on paper, and many of the names won’t be household names to English football fans. However that may play into the Russian’s hands, with Artem Dzyuba a real threat and powerhouse at 6ft5, who is likely to cause problems for England in the penalty box with his sheer size. The central defensive partnership of Aleksei and Vasiliy Berezutski have a combined age of 69, which is likely to encourage Roy to field a high energy attacking line up. The Russian team here look a far cray from the 2008 team who managed to reach the last 4 of the competition with power, pace and ruthless finishing.
Rumours have been circulating all week about the England team, will Roy start with Jamie Vardy? Where will Rooney play? Will Jack Wilshere start? In my view, 8/9 of the players are already known to everyone and that core is strong enough to get England deep into Euro 2016. England have energy, pace and virtually all of the players in the squad aren’t tarnished with past disappointments at major tournaments. Whether Vardy, Rashford, Sturridge or Kane starts, having the option of them coming on with 25 minutes to go is a huge plus for England – the England team finally have real options up front.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and confidently predict England will win this game by at least two goals. The Russian’s are an ageing, tired side and England could put them to the sword tonight. William Hill are offering 19/20 on an England win against Russia, but I think you can do better than that and I would go with England half time/full time win with Betfair Sportsbook at 11/5. I’m tempted by England 3-0 correct score at 17/1 with BetVictor as well 3/1 on Harry Kane to score and an England win with SkyBet.
My recommended bets for the England vs Russia:
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Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account