Vicente del Bosque
Spain's national soccer coach Vicente del Bosque gives instructions to his during a training session at Gniewino. REUTERS

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes Chelsea's Champions League success can provide a template for England's Euro 2012 campaign.

England begin their European Championship campaign against France on Monday night, with both sides vying to finish top of Group D and avoid a potential encounter with defending champions Spain.

Vicente del Bosque's side are favourites to retain the Henri Delaunay Trophy in Kiev on 1 July but Smith insists England should not be overawed by the Spanish juggernaut.

"History tells us that Spain can be denied, such as when Switzerland grabbed an unlikely win in South Africa thanks to some doughty defending and a goal on the break to give them a lead they just about held," Smith told the Telegraph.

And Smith sees parallels between England's Euro 2012 squad and the Chelsea side who overcame superior opponents in Barcelona and Bayern Munich to lift the Champions League trophy last season.

Like Chelsea, Roy Hodgson's England are expected to line up with two banks of four and sit deep against Europe's elite sitting deep, relying on the pace of Ashley Young and Theo Walcott to hit teams on the counter attack.

"At club level, Chelsea are another side who adopted that approach, in that they defended deep and en masse against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final and somehow came out the other side covered in glory," said Smith.

"It was a similar story in the final when Bayern Munich dominated the match. To achieve what Chelsea did, though, you need a combination of factors going your way. For a start, the team must be disciplined and have excellent defenders.

"Secondly, it is vital that the team has an outlet through a strong centre-forward holding up the ball. Isolated up front, that striker performs an invaluable role if he can make himself available and retain possession, so giving team-mates a chance to push up the pitch. If the defence doesn't get any respite at all, it's only a matter of time before they crack."

Didier Drogba performed this job perfectly for Chelsea and Liverpool forward Andy Carroll will be asked to perform a similar role in Monday's opener against France.

Nevertheless, Smith warned that Spain will always create chances and defensive discipline, plus a stroke of good fortune, will likely prove significant should England come up against the World Champions.

"When you are talking about a team of Spain's immense quality, they are bound to create chances at some point or other," added Smith.

"That's when you need the good fortune. That's when you need them to suffer a rare off day in front of goal.

"Chelsea certainly profited from that against Barça and Bayern, just as Italy, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland will hope to against Spain this month.

"It will be fascinating actually to see how those other teams in Group C go about tackling Vicente Del Bosque's side. Do they sit off to try and stay solid or do they press the world champions higher up the pitch?

"It's one or the other, really. There are no in-betweens. Because if you try and play a nice open game, the likes of Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Juan Mata will take you apart.

"Given time and space, no-one is going to be able to compete with this lot. Nine times out of ten they will pass you to death."

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