England game is France's first final, says Samir Nasri

The Manchester City midfielder believes Monday's match will go a long way to set the tone for both sides at Euro 2012 and hopes Les Bleus can challenge the perennial favorite.
Samir Nasri says he has been "living the build-up" to France's Euro 2012 clash with England for several months at Manchester City and believes Monday's match could define the future for both teams in the continental competition.

The midfielder has spent several seasons in England but enjoyed his greatest success last term as he claimed the Premier League title after moving from Arsenal to City in the summer of 2011.

"Winning the Premier League and getting into the final squad for the European Championship have been two enormous morale boosts for me," the 24-year-old told Goal.com in an exclusive interview.

"It won't be easy for us in the Euros, but I want to take advantage of the occasion because it arrives at perhaps the best moment possible for me."

Nasri scored the goal which sealed his country's direct passage to Euro 2012 when he converted a late penalty against Bosnia-Herzegovina back in October, and the midfielder seems certain to line up against England on Monday in a game which he believes is crucial for both teams.

"Our first final is the debut against England," he admitted.

"It's a very difficult hurdle and a game in which both teams will be playing for their future in the competition."

The former Marseille man then revealed he has already challenged several of his club colleagues to friendly wagers, including England goalkeeper Joe Hart.

"I have been living the [build-up to the] England game for months because some of my teammates at Manchester City always make jokes about it," he explained.

"But I have put up with a lot and there are some bets tabled with Hart and others.

"Let's see who comes out on top ..."

Overall, however, the midfielder believes the usual suspects will be in the mix for the title - although not England.

"My favorites for the title? The same as always: Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy," he said, before adding "And hopefully France too."

Les Bleus' clash against England in Donetsk's Donbass Arena kicks off at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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