UEFA Euro 2012:  Poland & Ukraine
Group D
France vs England-  Match Preview




Group D                Euro 2012               First round of fixtures 

Monday 11th June-        France vs England             KO 5pm           ITV1/HD

                                    Ukraine vs Sweden            KO 7:45pm        BBC1/HD


France coach Laurent Blanc expects a physical challenge when his side come up against England on Monday to begin Euro 2012.

The Three Lions go into the match without the injured Frank Lampard, John Ruddy, Gary Cahill and Gareth Barry as well as Wayne Rooney who is suspended but Blanc believes Roy Hodgson's men will be tough opposition.

Blanc said: "They are not at full strength but what concerns me is that England will play in a certain style. We are going to have to be extremely strong physically. That is going to be a difficult match."

But Blanc - who had a spell as a player in England with Manchester United - expects the rivalry between the two nations to give England an edge. "England will give everything because, when there are French against English, it raises the game above the normal international match. But we don't fear them more than other teams."

Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema have been in sparkling form in France's warm-up games, but Blanc admits that he has some reservations over his team's defence.

He said: "Fundamentally we always knew that we had a quality attack. In the last three games Ribery has rediscovered his club form at this level. With Karim Benzema, who has carried on his excellent form for Real Madrid, that makes two hugely talented players. In qualifying we relied on a good defence, I hope that we can rediscover this level of performance in defence."

England's preparations for the tournament have been hampered by suspension and injury, while Blanc's France are unbeaten in their last 21 matches.  

Coach Laurent Blanc believes France are no longer a major footballing power. France, the 2000 champions, go into the match as favourites to win Group D. The France coach said: "The team don't have the same ambitions as Spain or Germany at the start of the Euros. People say we're favourites in the group, but I don't agree with that. We were in the fourth pot in the draw. It's an open group. France, England, Ukraine and Sweden can all legitimately believe they can get into the latter stages. We are at the same level as the other sides. We hope to get through and justify our status."

England left-back Ashley Cole took part in the training session at Krakow's Hutnik Stadium on Friday. Cole missed a civic reception in Krakow on Thursday evening amid suggestions he had been suffering from a stomach bug. But the 31-year old Chelsea defender was among the first players out for an open session in front of 3,000 fans. Jermain Defoe was the only player not on show as he has returned to England following the death of his father.

Cole joined a brief warm up with England's players before joining Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, James Milner, Scott Parker, John Terry and Theo Walcott for a session in the stadium's gymnasium. The Football Association insisted this was all part of England plans after a harder training day on Thursday and there was nothing untoward in the players leaving the main session.

Striker Jermain Defoe is expected to rejoin with the England squad on Saturday following the death of his father. The Tottenham striker returned home from the team's Euro 2012 training base in Krakow following the sudden death of his father on Wednesday. Defoe is likely to be named among the substitutes for the opening Group D match Donetsk on Monday evening.

Wayne Rooney is banned for the first two games, while fellow strikers Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll are also in the squad. Defoe appeared as a late substitute in England's final warm-up match, hitting the post in a 1-0 victory over Belgium at Wembley on Saturday. It is not certain when he will return to the squad but he is not in line to start the match against Les Bleus anyhow.  

Click here to watch the press conference with England goalkeeper Joe Hart

Click here to watch the pre-match interview with Three Lions winger Stewart Downing

Click here to watch the latest in the England camp on Friday

Click here to view England's trip to Auschwitz ahead of France clash

Click here for England's Ashley Young press conference on Saturday

Click here for Hodgson & Gerrard's press conference on Sunday


Watch some classic meetings between France and England over the years by clicking on the image below:- 



I think the match will be a great one from the neutral perspective with lots of excitement and drama. It promises to be an open contest between two good teams who are real heavyweights of European football. Two teams who on the whole had disappointing World Cups in South Africa in 2010. There was all the furore surrounding France and all the off-the-field problems which certainly spilled over and affected matters on it thus resulting in them finishing bottom of their group. They had players turning against the manager Raymond Domenech- Evra and Anelka refusing to train- fans getting on the team's back and rightly so. It was an utter shambles from the French being truthful. They will be glad to see it in the past now and Laurent Blanc has done a fantastic jo to come in under difficult circumstances. He has sorted everything again, brought the spirit back, brought some new players in and the unity and togetherness looks to have been reborn if you like. They are in a much better position this time around and they should qualify no ends up from this group with some real star quality players with the likes of Benzema, Nasri, Ribery and Valbuena. Their biggest threat comes in their Group D opener against an England side under new management of course these days as well in Roy Hodgson who has come in and laid down a firm marker when leaving Rio Ferdinand out. He wants a more youthful element to the squad by the looks of things. He has done all he can do really in winning the two warm-up friendly games he has taken charge of- the squad has been training well and they look fully prepared. The injuries have hampered the preparations undoubtedly and the players brought into the 23-man party are not ideal with the exception of Jagielka. But on their day, England can play. They need Steven Gerrard in a free role to get control of the midfield- a solid defence is key. Hart is a good goalkeeper but Rooney will be a miss when he is sat out suspended. This is the game you need him for. I can see France scoring and the only position on the pitch you have to say England can get a goal from without Rooney (especially if Carroll starts upfront) is midfield from Gerrard. I think a draw.

Adam predicts France 1-1 England

Alex predicts France 0-0 England



Last meeting:-

17th November 2010             International Friendly               England 1-2 France                 Venue-  Wembley Stadium (North London)

France secured a second consective victory over the Three Lions by being victorious with a classy victory at Wembley over a fairly youthful and experimental England team. The visitors were vastly superior with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema opening the scoring on 16 minutes with a drilled finish past Ben Foster before Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena swept in a second for the French ten minutes after half-time from Bacary Sagna's cross. Peter Crouch, who replaced the injured Steven Gerrard, pulled one back in the second half finding the net afer stabbing a leg at Ashley Young's cross but Laurent Blanc's men were far better and deserved their victory. Both sides were looking to bury the hatchet in terms of their poor World Cup campaigns with Fabio Capello giving Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll their full senior debuts while then Cardiff City striker Jay Bothroyd was introduced as a substitute as he looked to rejuvenate the look of the squad which exited South Africa after a mauling at the hands of Germany in the last-sixteen stage. While, for the French who didn't make it past the group stages in the summer of 2010, it was the beginning of what would be a long repairing process.




Manager-  Laurent Blanc



Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Lloris (C), Mandanda, Carrasso

Defenders-  Reveillere, Debuchy, Rami, Koscielny, Mexes, Evra, Clichy

Midfielders-  Ribery, Cabaye, M'Vila, Martin, Diarra, Nasri, Matuidi, 
                  Malouda, Valbuena

Forwards-  Ben Arfa, Benzema, Giroud, Menez


Likely starting line-up:


Lloris (captain)




Manager-  Roy Hodgson



Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Hart, Green, Butland

Defenders-  G Johnson, Kelly, Terry, Lescott, Jagielka, A Cole, Baines

Midfielders-  Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gerrard (C), Parker, Milner,
                  Henderson, Jones, Young, Downing

Forwards-  Carroll, Defoe, Welbeck


Likely starting line-up:


G Johnson
A Cole
Gerrard (captain)




Franck Ribery (France) vs Ashley Cole (England)

Adam's comment:
"For France to be successful in this game, they need Bayern Munich's Ribery to show his best form which must come through. These two met a few weeks ago in the Champions League final where only Didier Drogba was better than Ashley Cole on the night who had an outstanding game and didn't let Ribery intimidate him. Franck barely had a touch in the second half although Cole wasn't allowed to go forward as often as normal. We all know how difficult it is to stop Ribery- once he gets into his stride and is allowed time and space on the ball, he can be devastating with his skill and ability to find a pass to split the defence in two. Ribery doesn't have a lot of pace which Ashley Cole has in abundance therefore this was one reason why he was so effective in nullifying the Frenchman's threat in Munich last month. Cole can use this to his advantage by bombing forward more frequently down the left hand side as it is well documented that forwards- especially Ribery- do not like to go back and help out defensively. There are other battles which are going to be key as well in deciding who wins and loses but for me, this one is the most intriguing as I am interested to see how Ribery has assessed his performance and Ashley Cole's for that matter from the Champions League final and see what he does differently in Donetsk."




France beat England 2-1 in their opening match of Euro 2004, the last competitive meeting between the two countries. Zinedine Zidane scored an injury-time double after Frank Lampard had headed England ahead.

Their only other European Championship finals meeting was a goalless draw in Malmo at Euro 92.

France are unbeaten in five matches against England (W4, D1), and have won the last three. Their last defeat was at Le Tournoi on 7 June 1997, when Alan Shearer scored the only goal.

Les Bleus have claimed just two points from six group matches at the last two major tournaments, while only five of the French squad featured at Euro 2008. .

France scored 15 times in qualifying - Greece (14) are the only side at Euro 2012 who netted fewer. The Danes and the Czech Republic also scored 15, with the Czechs' tally including three play-off goals.

Karim Benzema has scored more goals (seven) and recorded more assists (five) than any other French player since Blanc took over.

England have played in the most European Championships (seven) without managing to win the tournament. They have also been eliminated in the group stage four times, more than anyone else.

They have failed to win their opening match in all seven previous European Championships (D3, L4). They have lost the last two - 3-2 v Portugal in 2000 and 2-1 v France in 2004.

Manager Roy Hodgson has faced France once before in international football. His Switzerland side won 2-1 against them in a friendly match in Lausanne in May 1992.

Sixteen of the 19 goals that England have scored since the turn of 2011 have come in the opening hour.

John Terry and Joleon Lescott have started just two games together for England - both wins against Andorra in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.




Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

Nicola has been a FIFA referee since being placed on the list in 2007 while he has been officiating regularly in Serie A since 2002- he also works as an architect. The 41-year old is remembered for his handling of the 2010 Champions League final quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Bayern Munich where his dismissal of United's Rafael Da Silva for a second bookable offence led to the German side progressing in the tie on away goals. In total, he officiated in 25 games in all competitions last season (2011-12) handing out 122 yellow cards and 5 red cards. His highlights include taking charge of Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Valencia in the Champions League group stages in September while he took charge of Portugal's shock 2-1 defeat to Denmark in a Euro 2012 qualifier in October. Rizzoli was appointed to referee the Europa League quarter-final second leg between Athletic Bilbao and Schalke at the San Mames Stadium. On 6th May, the Italian also oversaw the final Milan derby of the campaign in Serie A with Inter winning 4-2 over AC at the San Siro. He refereed only three matches involving Serie A champions Juventus during the season.


Nicola refereed the 2010 UEFA Europa League Final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham in Hamburg.

Match Officials:

Referee- Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

Assistant Referees- Renato Faverani & Andrea Stefani (Italy)

Fourth Official- Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic)

Additional Assistant Referees- Gianluca Rocchi & Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)

Reserve Assistant Referee- Luca Maggiani (Italy)



Donbass Arena, Donetsk (Ukraine)
(picture taken from Ukrainian league match in 2011)

VIDEO:  How does the city of Donetsk have direct links with Wales?


Fixture Details:

Monday 11th June 2012              KO 5pm (BST)             Coverage-  Live on ITV1/HD, BBC Radio 5Live & match highlights on ITV1 at 10:35pm


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