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How France will be able to beat England
Published : 11 Jun 2012 08:59:00
England and France prepare to meet each other in the opening game of Group D, a re-match of their opening encounter at Euro 2004.
On that occasion it was the French who had got then better of their opponents and came away with a 2-1 win, courtesy of a late brace from the majestic Zinedine Zidane.
England were outclassed in the final minutes of the game and despite their effort, they came away with nothing from the game.
This time around France are once again the strongest of the two sides.
One man who is capable of causing major problems to England is Franck Ribery.
He will go up against England's least instinctive defender in Glen Johnson.
With neither John Terry or Jolean Lescott being naturally right-sided centre backs, Ribery will be looking to squeeze between the full-back and centre-back as he does so often for Bayern Munich.
Ribery has a superb understanding with Karim Benzema and England will need to be aware of Patrice Evra bombing forward and creating more space for Ribery to exploit.
With the attacking flair of Ribery, Benzema, Nasri and Malouda; France have an insurance policy in Yohan Cabaye and Yann M'Vila.
Laurent Blanc is likely to leave Cabaye and M'Vila behind the attackers in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The attacking foursome will aim to find space created by Steven Gerrard or Scott Parker moving forward and leaving the English defence open.
One area of concern for France is the defence.
Bacary Sagna and Younes Kaboul have been ruled out through injury and Eric Abidal has been forced to undergo a liver transplant, meaning the French will be without three of their first choice defenders.
Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy is set to replace Sagna, although despite having a good season in Ligue 1, he has just five caps for his country.
Philippe Mexes will play at centre-back alongside Adil Rami and Evra will maintain his place at left-back.
France also have a wealth of impact subs ready to make an impression.
Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud has had an incredible season, while Hatem Ben Arfa and Jeremy Menez could cause a lot of problems for England if brought on.
England are without a win in five against France, but the French have been eliminated from the last two major tournaments without winning a game.