France and England will renew their rivalry on Monday evening, as each side looks to get off to the perfect start in Group D.
Roy Hodgson's tenure as England manager has been dominated by his non-selection of former captain Rio Ferdinand, and his subsequent refusal to call him up as a replacement for the injured Gareth Barry or Gary Cahill. England will have to do without the services of striker Wayne Rooney, who misses the first two games of the group phase after his sending off against Montenegro in qualifying. Hodgson will be keen to keep England's hopes of reaching the knock-out phase alive until the return of the Manchester United man for the final group game against co-hosts Ukraine.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, former Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc has revitalised the French and transformed them into a genuinely contender for the European Championship, with Les Blues unbeaten in their last 21 games. However, all is not necessarily well for Blanc as injury problems continue to dog the French, along with defensive concerns, something the boss admitted to despite their 4-0 hammering of Estonia.
Blanc is unlikely to risk key midfield man Yann M'Vila, who is struggling for match fitness, as deputies Alou Diarra and Blaise Matuidi have recovered from injuries. Meanwhile, up front Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema should get the nod ahead of Montpellier's Olivier Giroud after netting a brace in the friendly against Estonia last week. AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes is likely to start alongside Adil Rami at the centre of defence, despite heavy competition from Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny.
Roy Hodgson's squad has been struggling with injuries and suspensions. They have already lost Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry and Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard. Lampard's club mate John Terry has however returned to training following a hamstring issue and will start alongside City's Joleon Lescott. Concerns over Ashley Cole's health have also been relayed.
With Wayne Rooney suspended, Danny Welbeck is likely to start ahead of Liverpool's Andy Carroll in attack. Both players enjoyed decent ends to the season, however the movement of the former Sunderland loanee, who netted his first international goal against Belgium last weekend, is said to be preferred to the physicality of Carroll.
Finally, City's James Milner is set to start on the right wing ahead of Arsenal's Theo Walcott, whose pace could be lethal as an impact substitute when fatigue sets in later in the game. Also, with United winger Ashley Young set to play behind the striker, Stewart Downing is likely to fill the additional wide birth.
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- England have failed to win their past five games against France, losing the last three
- France have gone out of the last two major tournaments without winning a match
- England have played France twice before at the Euros, drawing 0-0 in 1992 and losing 1-2 in 2004
- In the Euros, England holds the record for the longest run without a win (seven games).
Probable starting line-up
France (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra; Diarra, Cabaye; Malouda, Nasri, Ribery; Benzema
England (4-4-1-1): Hart; Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole; Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Downing; Young; Welbeck