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June 11, 2012
• 12:00 PM
• Donbass Arena, Donets'k
Referee: N. Rizzoli
• Attendance: 47400
S. Nasri 39'
J. Lescott 30'
That's it from me, Miles Chambers, but stay tuned in our Live Match Centre for full coverage of Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine's opening match against Sweden in the other Group D game this evening, kicking off in 50 minutes. Au revoir! Goodbye!
Full-time! France 1-1 England. A solid performance from both sides that showed quite a lot of similarities to Spain and Italy's draw yesterday afternoon. Joleon Lescott's header allowed England to have the lead for nine minutes before Samir Nasri levelled for the French. Hodgson has to be happy with that resilient performance, but at the same time I expect Laurent Blanc won't be too displeased either. Plenty to build on for both Group D sides!
90' + 3'
More from the Donbass Arena from Martin Langer: "A last, equally weak "God Save the Queen" from the English fans, trying to rally behind their team. Both fans and players will have to do better if thay want to stand a chance to win this tournament for the first time in their history."
90' + 2'
The pace has slowed right down in this tie and it looks destined to be a draw. Saying that, you just never know with these two...
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Bairner: "Mexes earns his corn by clearing a very dangerous cross. He's had a poor game, but that's a big, big interception."
No, the corner is well defended by the French, and the ball trickles back to Hart in the England box harmlessly.
Milner's cross to Welbeck is blocked on the slide in front of goal by Mexes. A top tackle, but England could get something from this...
More from our tireless France expert Robin Bairner: "France really pinning England back. England looking tired, but France still struggling to break their disciplined opponents down." Indeed.
England look the less likely to score - it's France who are piling on the pressure in the dying embers of this opening Group D clash.
France expert Robin Bairner comments on Blanc's changes: "Laurent Blanc brings on his ultimate wildcard in the form of Hatem Ben Arfa. The Newcastle man can be brilliant or he can be rubbish - Lolo is hoping for the good Hatem tonight. Playmaker Marvin Martin is also set to come on - the only genuine No.10 in the France side - adding fresh legs to the attack, but at the expense of some quality and form. These moves are undoubtedly attacking; M'Vila and Matuidi would have been like-for-like changes. It could be that, contrary to reports, these players are not fit to play yet."
England expert Rob Stewart believes: "One thing’s for sure after this game and it is that Roy Hodgson will not find it difficult to justify bringing Wayne Rooney back into the fray in game three because, for me, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck have both looked out of their depth. In fact there is a case for handing Andy Carroll a start this Friday."
Five minutes left. Will we see a late, late goal???
Hatem Ben Arfa
On comes Ben Arfa for Newcastle team-mate Cabaye, and Marvin Martin is brought on for the relatively-ineffective Malouda.
Debuchy picks the pocket of Young on the France right flank but his ball into the box is weak and Terry clears for England.
Looks like Hatem Ben Arfa is about to be introduced for the French.
Young pulls it across the face of goal from the left, but the imposing figure of Lloris smothers the chest-height ball into his body. Danger overted for France.
Cabaye hits it again, even better this time, and it nips Welbeck en route to just dropping wide of Hart's right post.
France have a free-kick on the left...but it's temporarily cleared, before Cabaye wins a corner with an ambitious effort from the rebound.
Robin Bairner, Goal.com's France expert, comments: "12 minutes remaining and France are playing with the kind of tempo that suggests they'd be happy with a draw. Another nervy moment for Hart as Ribery tries an audacious shot from a tight angle - the England goalkeeper is giving France hope, even if the English defence is looking very resolute."
Jermain Defoe and Jordan Henderson come on for England duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Scott Parker. Can they make a difference this evening?
The referee is infuriating the England section of the crowd with iffy decisions against the Three Lions. He brings play back when Milner goes down after an Evra challenge on the edge of the France box though.
Goal.com correspondent Martin Langer adds: "Both teams seem exhausted and the rhythm of play is way lower than in the first half, with a lot more mistakes by the two sides. The public as a response whistle every time they pass the ball sideways looking for an opening, asking for one final effort."
Rob Stewart, our England expert, agrees it's time for changes: "It’s time for the conservative England coach Roy Hodgson to seize the initiative rather than letting Laurent Blanc gain the upper hand in a game that is starting to drift by sending on a substitute in place of one of the many players who are starting to wilt. Say get Andy Carroll on in place of Danny Welbeck because at least he will pose a threat at set-plays. Otherwise, Blanc will make what could well be the game’s decisive move."
Top defensive cover from Johnson after Benzema wriggles his way into the England area.
Still no substitutes from either side - surprising considering some of the tired legs on show! Who do we want to see coming on guys and girls? Let me know in the Live Match Centre chat on the right-hand side!
Betting Editor Jim Knight comments on Glen Johnson's high-flying attempt a few minutes ago: "Woah there Glen Johnson! The Liverpool full back his a vicious drive towards the French goal, unfortunately it's more up than anything else and that one might have ended up in row ZZ. It's a little bit tense at the moment, no third goal is 4/5 with Bet365."
Yellow Card Ashley Young
Young yellow carded for a lunge on Benzema. Deserved, judging by the replays.
Parker steamrolls into a Malouda shot, much to the England fans in the Donbass Arena's delight. He really threw himself in front of that one.
Blanc looks like a science teacher, he really does. He's strolling the touchlines, probably plotting a way to breach the Three Lions' defence for a second time this evening.
Malouda's corner is claim with panache by Hart. The England shot-stopper has been excellent with set-pieces today, despite his questionable position and reaction for Nasri's goal.
France expert Robin Bairner gives us another update: "It's time to think about substitutes. When will Giroud show his face for France, and how will Blanc utilise him? Seems like Nasri is struggling with a knock. Blanc would be well served deploying the in-form Montpellier man, with Benzema dropping deeper, where he looks more comfortable. This game could still go either way, but it seems to be France's for the taking if they want it."
nice passing between the England men culminates in Johnson cutting in on his left 30 yards out and firing way over. A nice idea though and Hodgson's men are continuing to pose a real threat when on the attack.
Some terrific build-up play between Evra, Nasri and Benzema ends in the Real Madrid striker firing it low to Hart's right. The Man City keeper dives well and saves securely though.
Our correspondents have some insight into the state of affairs of the England players. James Goldman says: "England players running to the bench to take on water at every opportunity now." Wayne Veysey reveals: "England are starting to look a little tired. Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's the ball-chasing, as France continue to dominate the possession stats. It is now approaching the time to unleash Theo Walcott, whose searing pace will scare the living daylights out of plodding pair Mexes and Rami if he is given the chance to run at them. Neither Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or James Milner could have too many quibbles about being hooked."
The Three Lions get another corner after Terry's blocked header and Welbeck pass out wide result in Gerrard having his subsequent cross blocked on the England right.
England win a corner when Ribery's down on the floor, much to some of the French player's disgruntlement. The referee hadn't paused play however, so they weren't breaking any rules playing on.
France expert Robin Bairner says: "England have started the second half the better of the two sides, but they've not managed to test Hugo Lloris. France have looked dangerous on the counter, but they look loathe to commit too many players forward, fearful of being caught short at the back. Benzema continues to pop up everywhere, but he'd do well to remember he's playing a centre forward role, as his side are lacking a focus at the moment."
Lescott vs Debuchy on the England byline...Lescott wins. England goal-kick with 30 minutes left to go!
Martin Langer brings us another crowd update from the Donbass Arena: "HUGE shouts of "Russi-a Russi-a", it seems that the whole crowd is composed by Russian fans disguised with either the French or the English shirts. As a response, English fans try a timid "Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerland" and fail miserably."
As Johnson tumbles to the floor under Ribery's tackle to no avail, our correspondent from the Donetsk ground reveals: "The Mexican wave starts in the stadium. Unmistakenly a symptom that the match is getting boring."
The co-commentator just accidentally said croissant. Brilliant.
This game has that extra edge of excitement right now because you just don't know who's going to score next. Who do you see making it 2-1? Or will the scores stay at 1-1 for the remainder of the match? Let us know in the chat box on the right!
Nasri loops a curling-in cross on his right foot from the left flank but it swings over everyone for an England goal-kick.
Evra weaves into the left half of the England box but skipper Gerrard clears it behind safely for a corner to France.
Yep, England have found a bit of flow, Gerrard almost speeding into the 18-yard box after some tidy passing with his Three Lions comrades. No free-kick is given but the crowd- heavy with England support, have found their voice again.
A sprawling free-kick from Gerrard reaches an unmarked Johnson on the right by France's box but his first touch lets him down and the French clear, although just briefly.
Robin Bairner, our resident France expert, comments: "Good to see: Mexes has got rid of his daft braided hair. Bad to see: He's still defending as badly as he did in France's friendlies. Gave away a needless corner there."
England are gifted a rare corner when Mexes clears poorly behind his own goal. The Three Lions' corner is straight at Lloris however.
Milner almost replicates Steven Gerrard eight years ago when he passed back short for his England goalkeeper! Benzema gets to the ball only marginally before Hart though, and England hastily clear when the shot-stopper tackles the French striker.
Terry comes across and denies Ribery free reign on the left flank. The Three Lions are camped in their own half at the moment, just as they ended the first half...
Ribery has been passing excellently with Nasri this game. The duo win a throw-in on the left deep in England territory early on in this latter 45 minutes.
France get the second half under way!
Both sets of players are back out at the Donbass Arena. Will we see any change in formation or tactics from either side in the second half do you think?
Half-time is coming to an end. I'm loving the mix of opinion in the chat on the right. Plenty of you passionately backing both sides to get a winner this afternoon. In 45 minutes or so time I guess we'll see who's right!
More from Robin Bairner for your perusal: "Nasri has really come to life in this match, too. He's another player to be much-criticised in his homeland, but his goal was priceless for Blanc's men. It's not all positive, though. Benzema's reticence to stay in a forward position has meant that France are without a genuine target in attack. In fact, he's playing the centre forward role like a false nine, causing congestion in front of the English defence, making it harder for his attacking cohorts to pick a route through. Laurent Blanc's thoughts must start to turn to Olivier Giroud if this pattern continues."
Robin Bairner, our French expert, gives his half-time analysis: "Although France had the momentum, they won't be too displeased to hear the referee's half-time whistle. They made a promising start to the game but faded after 10 minutes or so, allowing England to expose their defensive weaknesses. The Three Lions were good enough to take advantage through Lescott, but Les Bleus have since bounced back well, particularly after Nasri's levelling goal. France's main threat has come down the right, where Mathieu Debuchy has continued his club form by getting forward regularly and getting several dangerous crosses into the box."
Have you seen the benefits of our new Live Match Centre? Up-to-minute stats are quick handy, are they not? France with their 61.4% possession and their 10 shots compared to England's two hint that Blanc's men dominated. What say you lot? Let us know in the chat section on the right who you can see coming out as top dogs in this tie...
Half-time! An edgy first half that came to life when Joleon Lescott headed England ahead after 30 minutes. France continued to press from then, however, and they deserved Samir Nasri's equaliser with six minutes left on the clock. Hopefully we'll see an equally competitive second half!
45' + 1'
England expert Rob Stewart, who covers many of the Magpies' home games in the Premier League season, says: "Newcastle are keen to sign French right-back Mathieu Debuchy and the Toon Army can see why because he looks a class act. They’d love him at the Sports Direct Arena because of his attacking flair that is on show this evening but it will be interesting how he handles Oxlade-Chamberlain if the Arsenal winger gets going."
Nasri's corner from the left is batted clear by the onrushing Hart. Benzema's dribble back into the box is brilliant, but Hart does well to block is ball into the danger area with his trailing leg.
I mentioned earlier that it was tough to tell who was in control of this tie. Without a doubt it is France who have had the upper hand since England's goal.
Our England expert, Rob Stewart, responds: "Everyone will point the finger of blame at Joe Hart for conceding that equaliser but Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker should put their hands up in the dressing room at half-time because if they had not drifted so far back towards their own goal than Samir Nasri would not have had all the time in the world to set his sights on goal. Gerrard's panicky attempt to close him down said it all although it was a classy goal."
Robin Bairner, expert in all things Les Bleus, says of the equaliser: "France level through Nasri with a low shot from the edge of the box. The Manchester City man has been the only Frenchman with an appetite to shoot from range and he's been rewarded, but club-mate Joe Hart, who has looked nervous, save from Diarra aside, has look distinctly uncertain, will feel he should have stopped it."
Goal.com correspondent Martin Langer brings us some excellent insight from the Donbass Arena: "Uffff, after scoring his goal, Samir Nasri makes the hush sign and shouts 'fermez la geule' (shut your mouths) to the press, who were constantly criticizing him because he didn't score as often as they would like him to. "
Assist Franck Ribéry
Goal Samir Nasri
GOAL!! France get their equaliser!! Samir Nasri takes a touch, sets himself up for a strike from 25 yards and curls in low into the bottom left-hand corner at Hart's near post. A great strike from the French attacker. France 1-1 England!!
Credit to France, they haven't let up any momentum now they are 1-0 behind. How long will it stay this way though? Can you see the French getting an equaliser or even a winner before the match is over?
Robin Bairner reveals Arsene Wenger said on TF1: "All that came from a completely needless foul [from Evra]." Very true, Arsene. Very true.
Betting Editor Jim Knight might be able to tempt you with a few punts: "England find the opener! A fantastic ball in from Steven Gerrard and Jolean Lescott heads it in. The Manchester City defender gives England the lead and now England are 4/7 on Bet365 - the draw is a 5/2 shot and France are out to 5/1 if you fancy a comeback is on the cards."
France so close to equalising! Twice! Aloud Diarra, at fault for the England goal, hammers a header on goal from the free-kick conceded by Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Hart palms in away slightly. Ribery nudges the ball back into the six-yard box with his head but Diarra's second attempt is nodded wide of Hart's right upright. France unlucky not to be level!
Yellow Card Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Oxlade-Chamberlain is booked for a rash challenge on Debuchy on the England left.
One of Goal.com's Donetsk correspondents, James Goldman, adds: "You’d be hard pressed to argue the goal had been coming, but certainly England had made a highly competent start and threatened on more than one occasion. The England fans are bouncing, suddenly the hardship of travelling so far east doesn’t seem so bad."
France expert Robin Bairner says of the England goal: "One of Alou Diarra's strengths is supposed to be his power in the air, yet on this occasion he's comprehensively out-jumped by Lescott, who heads home from close range. Evra conceded a needless free kick on the left, and now he's bound to take more heat from a media who don't believe he should be in the squad. France have real problems now."
Assist Steven Gerrard
Goal Joleon Lescott
...GOAL!! Gerrard floats a free-kick in from the right and Joleon Lescott beats his marker, Diarra, to the ball. The Manchester City centre-back powers a header past Lloris a few yards out, making it France 0-1 England!!
A pause in play as the referee asks for a ball! Gerrard will take the free-kick on the England right any moment now...
Philippe Mexes tackles Welbeck excellently as he tries to pass France's centre-back along the right edge of the box.
Debuchy slices a cross into the grateful hands of Hart. I haven't seen much of the France right-back before today but he's been pretty decent thus far in the Donbass Arena.
This game has a peculiar flow. It's hard to pinpoint which side has been more dominant, but right now I'd argue France are in the ascendancy as they nibble at England's defence.
Nasri filters play wide to the left, Malouda dinks it back to the right, but Cole defends well when leaping with Benzema and ensures the France threat remains peripheral.
England fans can breathe easy, he's back on his feet, albeit moving a bit slowly. He should be back at full pace before long.
Uh-oh, this does not look good for England. Welbeck is down clutching his ankle after landing awkwardly in an aerial challenge with Adil Rami. Hodgson will not want another striker unavailable to him in Euro 2012...
Alou Diarra manhandles Alou Diarra 40 yards from Joe Hart's goal and it is a free-kick to the Three Lions.
England are pressing on the right but a sweeping cross from Johnson overhits everyone much to his disappointment, and France have possession back.
Jim Knight condemns Milner after that missed chance a couple of minutes ago: "James Milner is NOT the man you want there as Young plays him in but the Manchester City midfielder shoots wide of Lloris' empty net - he should still score though shouldn't he?! Milner, unsurprisingly, is a massive 28/1 to score the next goal." Who would you want in front of goal? Danny Welbeck perhaps? Let us know in the chat box on the right!
fancy footwork from Oxlade-Chamberlain sends the England half of the crowd into cheers of ecstacy, but his pass to Young on the left is deemed offside. Positive movement from England despite the lack of a goal just yet.
Goal.com's England expert Rob Stewart adds: "My dear friend Don Howe used to always tell me that games are won and lost in midfield and so the danger signs are already there for England. Their problems are hinging on the positioning of Steven Gerrard who is dropping deep into the territory that should be patrolled by Scott Parker when he should be giving the England team an attacking boost. Roy Hodgson needs to sort it before it's too late because Gerrard needs to be getting further forward sooner rather than later."
James Milner's through on goal...oh, he's missed it!! Young slides a delightful ball through the French back four but the Manchester City midfielder slides it wide after knocking it past Hugo Lloris 10 yards from goal. Should he have scored? I'd say so.
Ashley Young goes to ground on the right wing on the counter-attack but no foul is given. Replays indicate the impact on his ankle was incredibly minimal.
Robin Bairner has this to add on Ribery's chance moments ago: "France get in behind England for the first time, but Ribery dallies, allowing Johnson to tidy up. Poor from the winger, who has been criticised for his decision making in the past. He'll need to be sharper than that if he's to be the game breaker today."
Martin Langer at the Dombass Arena reveals: "Seven minutes of play and big parts of the stands are still empty. It seems that one of the most awaited matches of the Euros will have the crowd of an average Championship match."
Ooo! Nasri strikes it from 20 yards on his right in front of goal, but the ball skids inches wide of the left post. An early warning of the threat France pose from long distance.
Great interception from Glen Johnson to prevent Franck Ribery cutting inside on the left wing. The French attacker was in acres of space for a moment there!
As both sides continue to get to grips on the crucial Euro 2012 clash, GoalUK's Betting Editor Jim Knight adds: "And we're off! England having the best of the opening exchanges and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking to drive at the French defence at every opportunity - he's 14/1 to score the first goal with Bet365."
Greg Stobart, our England expert, says: "England fans had better hope that Steven Gerrard does better against Yohan Cabaye than he did when the pair last met because the Liverpool talisman hardly got a touch when his club were beaten 2-0 by the Frenchman’s Newcastle United side on April Fool’s Day. But then again to be honest he could hardly fare worse than he did at the Sports Direct Arena where he looked well short of match-fitness against the fleet-footed Cabaye."
Ashley Cole thunders into the marauding French right-back Debuchy to concede a France corner. Seconds later the Chelsea left-back concedes a free-kick by clattering into Nasri on the flank.
...But the corner is short and headed clear.
England centre-bakcs John Terry and Joleon Lescott have to react quickly to prevent Karim Benzema charging through on goal when Samir Nasri cheekily flicks over the England back-four. The French have a corner...
Our French expert, Robin Bairner, has this to add: "Unexpected start to the game. England controlling possession. Rami gets off to a nervous start, losing possession cheaply to the Ox, but thankfully for France, his pass into the box was almost equally poor."
A huge cheer as Oxlade-Chamberlain wiggled into the box on the left, but he was crowded out before long by a swarm of French defenders.
Mathieu Debuchy launches a throw up the right flank from deep in France's half but England collect the ball back after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lost it.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli gets the game under way!
Kick-off is mere seconds away now. Last-second predictions folks? Use the chat box on the right to get in touch with us!
Our other correspondent in Donetsk, Martin Langer, reports there is word of issues with the fans getting into the stadium for kick-off. Apparently the security has been over-zealous in the Ukrainian city.
The teams are out and the national anthems have begun to blare. First up: England’s ‘God Save The Queen’ echoes around the 50,000-capacity Donbass Arena.
Our correspondent in Donetsk, James Goldman, reports: "Men and women dressed in orange dungarees armed with massive foam hammers and some appallingly choreographed dance routines. Just your average bonkers opening ceremony."
Do you follow @GoalBetting on Twitter? Their value bet for Denmark to beat the Dutch was a tip I was delighted to have gone with. What punts do you have on this afternoon on France-England? I'd advise you avoid banking on either of the left-backs scoring - Cole has 94 caps and zero goals, while Evra has 41 and zero goals too!
Keep the interaction coming in via the chat box on your right. Predicted scores as we enter the final 15 minutes before kick-off are especially welcomed!
Hope for Laurent Blanc’s side heading into this tournament lies with their brilliant current form. Going unbeaten in 21 consecutive matches is no easy feat, but Hodgson will be hoping his Three Lions can put that stat to the grave with a victory in his first competitive match in charge.
A quick stat regarding Oxlade-Chamberlain: he will be the third-youngest player for England in a major tournament today. Only Rooney and Michael Owen have stepped up for the senior side on the biggest stages at a younger age. Hodgson was expressing his confidence to ITV Sport in the Arsenal winger despite his lack of international experience.
England, on the other hand, have sneaked their way up to fifth in the rankings. Despite this, Hodgson’s men (alongside Italy) were many people’s tips to flop at Euro 2012. Do you think they will be left for dust in the group stages like many pundits are predicting? Or will the lack of hype surrounding the squad help?
Do you want to know why France are ranked a lowly 14th in the Fifa rankings despite their awesome array of individual talent? I know you do, they don’t call me Mystic Miles for nothing! The French have picked up just two points in their last six group games in major tournaments. A tad feeble and a little bit embarrassing considering the nation’s achievements a little over a decade ago. They’ll make a more respectable showing in 2012 surely? Right?
The last time England reached the Euros - eight years ago, to be precise - they lost 2-1 to Les Bleus in their opening match of the tournament. Both teams made it to the knockout stage but both teams were eliminated in the quarter-finals by teams that faced off in the final (Portugal kicked out Gerrard & Co. on penalties while Greece conquered the French 1-0). Can they go further this time around?
Gerrard said he's "close" to a perfectionist to ITV Sport. Who thinks he can have a major say in this afternoon's match? You can let us know you're opinion in the chat box on the right thanks to our new Live Match Centre.
714 days since that 4-1 Germany thrashing in the last-16 of the 2010 World Cup. No, I’m not sad enough to have counted every day! Honest...
I also quite enjoy the idea of saying ‘le’ instead of ‘the’ in sentences. Makes you sound a bit pompous but can spice up a dull anecdote or two. ANYWAY. Back to the football match at hand!!
I’m not going to lie boys and girls - I’m English. To calm any accusations of blatant bias, you ought to know my favourite scene in cinema history (except everything in Anchorman, obviously) is the bit in Casablanca when France's national anthem is played in Rick's bar. Blooming brilliant.
With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012, his Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck gets to start up front in his absence. Playing behind him in attack will be fellow Old Trafford resident Ashley Young, who looked in-form in both of England’s pre-tournament friendly wins over Belgium and Norway. Can they trouble Blanc's men? Let us know in the chat box on the right what you think of these two teams!!
In midfield, Hodgson has plumped for one-time captain Scott Parker and current captain Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park, standard stuff from the former Liverpool and Inter Milan boss. On the flanks in the 4-4-1-1 formation, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been chosen ahead of Theo Walcott and Stewart. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s selection especially has caused a stir of excitement at Goal Towers and all over Twitter too.
Roy Hodgson will be hoping his starting 11 can be fierce like the three lions on their chest, as not the tame pussycats they were at the 2010 World Cup under Fabio Capello. Joe Hart starts in goal (cue: mock surprise) with Glen Johnson at right-back, Ashley Cole at left-back, and John Terry partnered with Joleon Lescott in the centre of defence. Fellow defender Martin Kelly, who would have not played anyway I expect, has a virus and does not feature on the bench. Can’t argue too much with that back-line, although Johnson - in my humble opinion - might be the weak link there, especially if Ribery is fielded on the left wing...
In midfield and attack, Blanc has enough quality to make any England fan weak at the knees. Yohan Cabaye and Alou Diarra anchor the midfield in Les Bleus’ 4-2-3-1 formation, with Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri and Florent Malouda let loose as the attacking trio of the five-man midfield. Holding midfielder Yann M’Vila is out injured for this opening match of the tournament for the squad. Leading the front-line will be Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, and the 24-year-old will need to marked tightly by the opposition defence to prevent him hammering goals into the England net.
Before we look at some of the pre-match stats, let’s break these line-ups down shall we? Starting with France! Laurent Blanc has gone for a flat back-four of (from right-back to left-back) Mathieu Debuchy, Philippe Mexes, Adil Rami and Patrice Evra, with skipper Hugo Lloris guarding the goalmouth. No real surprises here, move along folks...
England: Hart; Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole; Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Young; Welbeck.
France: Lloris; Debuchy, Mexes, Rami, Evra; Cabaye, Diarra; Malouda, Nasri, Ribery; Benzema.
Team news from the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine coming up faster than a Channel Tunnel train...
Bonjour! Hello! And welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE coverage of France versus England! I, Miles Chambers, will be your host for this first Group D match of Euro 2012. Sit back, relax (unless you’re a devout fan of either side, in which case brace yourself for probable heartache and despair based on recent tournament history...) and enjoy this play-by-play!
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