The Three Lions of England start their Euro 2016 campaign against Russia at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on Saturday evening.
Roy Hodgson’s young England team are coming on the back of some excellent form and unlike in the previous years, they are one of the favourites to make a deep run into the tournament. The Three Lions eased past their qualification group with a 100% win record and conceding fewest goals. And since then, they played most of their friendlies against strong European oppositions. The lost to the Spain and the Netherlands, but beat the likes of France and Germany. These two defeats are their only losses since the early exit from World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Moreover, their key players are coming after strong performances for their domestic clubs, which gives England fans every reason to be optimistic for a strong showing in the Euros this term.
Russia after the dismissal of Fabio Capello had shown some signs of resurrection, but their recent form is a big disappointment. The new managed Leonid Slutsky helped the team to gain automatic qualification with maximum points in their last four matches, including wins against Sweden and Montenegro. Russia haven’t won in any of their last three friendlies, losing two and drawing in their final warm up game against Serbia. Their squad has plenty of experienced players and just one win may be enough to see them through to knock outs as four best third placed teams are guaranteed qualification.
England Team News:
Ryan Bertrand is likely to miss the match after failing to recover a knock that ruled him out of the friendly against Portugal last week, with Danny Rose expected to continue at left-back.
While Chris Smalling is a minor doubt, but he is expected to start and partner Gary Cahill at the heart of defense.
Raheem Sterling will be preferred to Leicester City hero Jamie Vardy, who is expected to play behind the striking duo of captain Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane.
Hodgson is likely to start with a 4-3-1-2 formation, but the players are flexible enough to switch it to a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 when required.
England: Predicted Line-up (4-3-1-2)
Hart – Rose, Smalling, Cahill, Walker – Dier, Wilshere, Alli – Sterling – Kane, Rooney.
Russia Team News:
Leonid Slutsky is expected to use his usual 4-2-3-1 formation with the tactics focused on quick counter attacks through the wings.
The absence of Alan Dzagoev, who has been ruled out of the tournament through injury is a big blow to their chances. To make things even worse, Igor Denisov was forced to pull out of the squad through injury on Tuesday, leaving plenty of holes in the midfield.
The major worry for Slutsky will be form of the veteran central defensive duo of Sergey Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski.
Russia: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Akinfeev – Kombarov, Berezutski, Ignashevich, Smolnikov – Glushakov, Ivanov – Shatov, Golovin, Kokorin – Dzyuba.
England vs Russia: Head-to-Head Stats
England and Russia had met on two previous occasions, during the Euro Cup 2018 qualifying stages and they share 1 win each.
England won 3-0 at Wembley in the first leg of the qualifier in 12 September 2007, thanks to a double from Michael Owen and a one from Rio Ferdinand.
In the return leg at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 17 October 2007, Russia bounced back after going down to a Rooney strike in first half to win it 2-1, with two goals from substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko.
England vs Russia: Prediction
England’s preparations has been all good and there is every reason to be positive in their group opener against a Russian side, who look in all sorts of trouble. Russia had lost 3 of their last four matches, winning just once and that too against a lowly Russia. England can be backed with confidence to win here, but they must defend well.
Russia managed to score a goal at least, in each of their last 7 games, but they are extremely vulnerable at the back. England, with their star studded attack are poised to give them plenty of trouble and likely to score at least 2 goals. Hodgson’s side have kept clean sheets just twice in their last 7 and they are also expected to concede here, looking at Russia’s scoring rate and the latest situation with Chris Smalling. So both teams to score will be my preferred bet on goal markets on this game.
Exact Score Prediction: England 3-1 Russia (odds 14.82).
- England to Win (odds @ 1.87)
- Over 2.5 goals (odds 2.21)
- Both Teams to Score (odds 2.04)
- Both Teams to Score and England to win (odds 4.47)
- Harry Kane to score any time (odds 2.11)
*Odds from Bet-at-Home at the time of composing this article.
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