By Francisco Delgado
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.
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' hopes of making an impression in the tournament.
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"Our first final is the debut against England," the 24-year-old told Goal.com in an exclusive interview.
"It's a very difficult hurdle and a game in which both teams will be playing for their future in the 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. And he is hopeful of carrying his club form into the national team at the Euros.
"Winning the Premier League and getting into the final squad for the European Championship have been two enormous morale boosts for me," he admitted.
"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."
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 team-mates at Manchester City always make jokes about it," he explained.
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"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 favourites for the title? The same as always: Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy," he pondered.
"And hopefully France too."
Les Bleus' clash against England in Donetsk's Donbass Arena kicks off at 18:00CET.