Blanc: Hodgson's England will spring no big surprises

The 46-year-old France coach played down his team's chances in its opening Euro 2012 game in Donetsk, but suggested that the Three Lions' approach is predictable.
France boss Laurent Blanc insists he knows all about the philosophy of new England manager Roy Hodgson ahead of the sides' meeting at Euro 2012.

Les Bleus have been drawn alongside the Three Lions in Group D for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, and will clash on June 11 in Donetsk.

“We know him well from the campaign with Fulham to the Europa League final," he told The Times. "We know his system, his philosophy. We know he has a preference for 4-4-2, but it’s different from club to country. We’ll have to watch those friendly games to see how he’s going to line up."

Blanc believes that, while England will prove to be a difficult opponent, the task facing the recently appointed former West Brom boss is a tough one with the tournament approaching fast.

“It mustn’t be easy for Hodgson," he said. "National coach is a very difficult role anyway. You need time to share your ideas, your philosophy and he just arrived. But I’ve seen the squad. I know them all. England will be a tough opponent, but I don’t think there will be big surprises.”

The 46-year-old also played down his team's chances ahead of the tournament, admitting that France is no longer a major power in world football.

“France is not part of the great football nations any more," he added. "Not a lot of people admit that. The journalists don’t admit that. I know that it hurts. That’s not lacking ambition. It’s pragmatic. It’s analyzing the situation as it is

“Take the FIFA ranking [with England seventh, France 16th]. Who is the best team in the group? Who is the best?”

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