Robin Bairner & Francisco Delgado
England will start their Euro 2012 campaign against France on Monday evening without suspended striker Wayne Rooney, yet the Manchester United man will receive no sympathy from Adil Rami, who is expected to start at the heart of Les Bleus’ defence.
Rooney was dismissed in the Three Lions’ final qualification match against Macedonia for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic, and was subsequently handed a two-match ban that rules him out of the national side’s opening games in Poland and Ukraine.
“If [Wayne] Rooney can't play it's his own fault,” Valencia centre-back Rami told Goal.com. “He himself looked for it in qualification, and there is no problem for France. We are concentrated on our own job.”
"The combinations between Ribery and Benzema can give us a lot of goals in this European Championship" - Adil Rami
The former Lille player has also insisted that Laurent Blanc’s men will not treat the match lightly, despite their opponents being without a number of stars due to physical complaints, instead forecasting a difficult opening to the competition for his side.
“There is too much talk about the England players who are out injured, but we won't relax at all in this match,” Rami asserted.
“The game against England will require an enormous effort physically. The team that defends best will win the game and I am confident that will be France, although it won't be easy at all.
“How can we overcome England's physical power? First of all I think there isn't too much difference between the two teams [in that respect], but the key will be to anticipate their actions and avoid giving away fouls close to the area. It will be a hard match and a real test to start the tournament.
“England's future [in the competition] is similar to ours. It depends on what happens in the first match.”
Indeed, Rami, like many of his compatriots, has been quick to play down the success of France in the pre-tournament friendlies, which saw them defeat Iceland, Serbia and Estonia and extend their unbeaten run to 21 games.
“We arrive with optimism at this European Championship, but with no euphoria. We have learnt our lesson after what has happened in the last few years and we have to avoid a repeat of that, however we can,” Rami said, hinting at the debacle France suffered at the 2010 World Cup.
“I feel good sensations and vibrations after the friendlies ahead of the Euros. We have played well and arrive at the competition in good shape, but now is the moment of truth and if we lose to the English everything will change for the worse. Football has those things.”
If the defender is coy over the possibility of France winning their opening match, he is happy to label their side world class in one aspect of their play.
|THREE AND EASY?
|22/1||France are 22/1 to beat England 3-0 with bet365|
“The best thing about France? The service from midfield to the attack,” Rami stated. “In that area we have players capable of overshadowing the very best in the world. The combinations between [Franck] Ribery and [Karim] Benzema can give us a lot of goals in this European Championship.”
Les Bleus’ long-term prospects, though, are something he would not be drawn on greatly.
“People talk about Spain, Germany and Holland as the favourites for the title, but there could be a surprise team as well. France? Who knows?” he concluded.
Come Monday evening, Les Bleus will have a much better idea whether their pre-tournament optimism was justified after their tricky opening match.