A lot of the pre-match buildup for France v England has centered on Steven Gerrard and his importance to the England side. With Lampard missing through injury, Rooney out through suspension and John Terry the center of one too many controversies, the England and Liverpool captain has quietly taken center stage and the mantle to guide England through Group D.
Ashley Young and, if they’re selected, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott will provide the pace and cutting edge to England’s attack but it will be Gerrard they’ll look to for creativity from the midfield and the Liverpool man recogises the enormity of the task facing him.
Gerrard on England’s chances at Euro 2012:
I think you always have to have the confidence and the belief to go to the Euros and do well but in previous big tournaments we have underperformed, not delivered and have not connected as a team at the right time. But I think that the way we qualified and the way we are playing at the moment gives me the belief and confidence that we can go to Poland and Ukraine and do well.
Gerrard on England v France:
England against France in the Euros is massive obviously for two reasons. It is the first game so you want to make a statement and let everyone know what you are about and your intent for the rest of the tournament. But also it is going to be very important to try and top this group, so on paper you try and get an easier draw in the next stage. However, I’m not sure there are any easy games in the quarter finals of this sort of tournament!
I think we know a lot about France but that doesn’t mean that we are going to stop them. We have to work really hard for each other and have to stick together. It is going to be a really tough game. But it is going to be tough for France as well, they will be just as wary of us as we are of them, there is big respect there. We played them recently as well which gives us an idea of how good they are but there is no doubt about it – we have to play to our maximum if we want to get the result we want in that first game.
France’s defence has been highlighted as a weak spot by many observers before the game, but on the day England will still need to exploit that weakness and despite the fast players on the wings and playing up front, Gerrard (pin pointed by French players as being the one player they want to stop) will play a significant role in England’s drive to beat France and take control of Group D.
England v France Euro 2012 Odds
France win: 2.5
England win: 3.3
Score Prediction: 1-1 (6.5)