Euro 2016 Group B: Youthful England to break down ageing Russian defence
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | June 9, 2016
England v Russia
- Euro 2016 Group B
- Saturday, June 11th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Stade Velodrome, Marseille
- Live on ITV
England out for Euro 2008 qualifying revenge
Russia helped ruin England’s chances of qualifying for the 2008 European Championship, by beating them in their last meeting, and are 7/2 with Coral to upset the Three Lions again in this Group B battle.
Back to being patriotic now; Roy Hodgson’s men are a completely different team to back then under Steve McClaren, with the exception of now-captain Wayne Rooney, and come into this Euro 2016 clash in high confidence.
England were the only nation in qualifying to finish with a 100 per cent win record (10 out of 10), and boast a young squad (the most youthful at the finals) that are hungry and raring to go – compared to Russia’s ageing roster (second oldest).
That makes the Three Lions’ match odds of 10/11 very tempting, and they are a more enticing 14/1 to repeat their 3-0 scoreline victory over the Eastern Europeans in the home fixture in Euro 2008 qualifying.
Rooney may not have been on target on that occasion, but did net in the loss a month later, so is a tempting 5/4 shout to score again anytime nine years on, after recently becoming England’s all-time leading marksman.
Three Lions strong in attack
Two men that have more of a chance of finding the net for the Home Nation, though, are prolific pair Harry Kane (evens) and Jamie Vardy (5/4), who have shown that their partnership has the potential to be devastating.
After bagging a combined 49 goals for Tottenham and Leicester City respectively in the Premier League this past season, Kane (5/1 to bag a brace or better) and Vardy (also 5/1 to strike last) look set to start in Marseille.
Wonderkid Marcus Rashford may not be in the XI for this fixture, but got off the mark after just two minutes into his England debut against Australia, so is a tempting 2/1 price in the anytime market, after his remarkable rise in the game.
If Hodgson’s line-up against Portugal in their last friendly before the France finals is anything to go by, then Rooney will start just behind front pair Kane and Vardy, at the tip of a midfield diamond consisting of Eric Dier, James Milner and Dele Alli too.
However, with the former three not exactly clicking, will there be a chance in formation and/or switch of players? The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere will all be aiming for starting roles.
At the back, it seems pretty certain that Joe Hart will start in goal, behind the back four of Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and Danny Rose.
It has been said that defence is the weakest area in England’s squad, but they are 23/20 to keep a clean sheet and 9/5 to win to nil. If you still unsure of the Three Lions backline, though, you can take odds of 15/4 for them to triumph but both teams score.
Depleted Russians no match for hungry Lions
Russia were hit with the news before the finals that young attackers Alan Dzagoev and Denis Cheryshev would miss out due to injury, while the likes of Igor Denisov, Yuri Zhirkov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov also excluded.
Much of the scoring burden, therefore, lies with Aleksandr Kokorin and Artyom Dzyuba. The former bagged three goals in qualifying, while the latter finished joint-top of their Group G with eight, along with Manchester United target Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It is no surprise that Dzyuba tops Russia’s anytime market at 5/4, with Kokorin next at 15/8.
Most of the experience available to Leonid Slutsky comes in defence, though there are fears that they may be too old, especially coming up against the pace of younger England legs and Vardy.
CSKA Moscow duo Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski have a combined age of 69 and over 200 caps between them, so will need to use all their wisdom to keep goals against them to a minimum.
Clubmate Aleksandr Golovin is one to watch in attack, though, with the 20-year-old touted for the top in future. He is 7/1 to add to his two goals so far in his fledgling international career.
Coral’s top tip: England are a tempting 15/4 to win with both teams scoring.