England v Russia, Saturday June 11
Marseilles, Live on ITV, 8pm
30 years of hurt has quickly turned into 50 years of hurt as England have time and time again failed to show up in major tournaments – at the very least learned to hold their nerve in penalty shoot-outs! This time round there is genuine cause for optimism as a perfect record of 10 wins out of 10 in qualification, eye-catching friendly wins against some of Europe’s big names, coupled with a new generation of talent all means that England fans finally feel this is a side who can challenge for the biggest prizes.
In the group stages, they won 10 games out of 10, scoring 31 goals, conceding 3 and ending up with a +28 goal difference.
Beaten home and away by Austria in qualification, Leonid Slutsky’s men need to improve quickly if they’re to make any impact on Euro 2016. Slutsky took over from Fabio Capello midway through the qualification campaign and results towards the back-end of the group stages have shown signs of improvements. Reaching the knockout phases of the competition should be within reach, though England and Wales will think otherwise.
In the group stages, they won 6 games, drew 2 and lost 2, scoring 21 goals, conceding 5 and ending up with a +16 goal difference.
England were the only team with a 100% record in qualifying and they scored at the second highest rate: 31 goals in 10 games. If qualification form was anything to go by, then Roy’s men would have one hand on the trophy already. Defensively they were strong too, England conceded at the joint-second lowest rate: 3 goals in 10 games and without their injured keyman Alan Dzagoev it’s hard to see Russia causing England problems over a sustained period in this match.
In games like this you might look to set-pieces for evidence of the weaker team possessing some sort of advantage, but during qualification, Russia were the only team at France 2016 not to score a single headed goal. They were difficult to break down however, and didn’t conceded more than once in any of their qualifying matches.
All signs point to England squeezing through this one. In an unimpressive qualification campaign Russia didn’t come up against anyone with England’s firepower, and it’s hard to make a case for them being able to cope in this match.
- England to win to nil @
- England to win and 1 or 2 total goals in the match @
- England to win by exactly 2 goals @
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