Marcus Braddock previews England's opening game of the Euros
Euro 2016 kicks off this weekend and with England in group B we get an early start in the competition. Our first opponents are Russia who've played four friendly games in 2016 but have only won one of them, a 3-0 against Lithuania in March. They've not won since then, losing in March to France 4-2 and more recently have lost 2-1 to Czech Republic and on Sunday they drew with Serbia 1-1.
The route to France 2016 was one fraught with difficulties, having won their first game 4-0 against Liechtenstein, they made life tricky for themselves by not winning the next four and collecting just two points from a possible twelve. Manager Fabio Copello and the Russian F.A. Parted company part way through the campaign, replaced by as well as his job as national coach. With Slutsky at the helm, Russia won all of there remaining games and qualified ahead of Sweden who had to go through the play-off system. Leonid Slutsky who remains coach for CSKA Moscow
Head to Head
We've only played each other twice in the European Championships. Both games were qualification for the main competition and ended with a win for the home side. In the Wembley game in 2007, England won 3-0 with a brace from Michael Owen and a rare international goal for Rio Ferdinand.
minute but Russia came back to win 2-1 with goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko in the second half.thIn the return leg, England started well enough with a goal from Wayne Rooney in the 29
One to watch
Twenty year old Aleksandr Golovin has been dubbed “the new Ronaldo”, Golovin has only played three times for Russia and twenty-four times for his club, CSKA Moscow. His three international caps have produced two goals in friendly games, one against Belarus and one against Lithuania. The goal against Belarus showed his quick thinking and skill and is on YouTube if you want to have a look for yourself.
Russia have left their all-time top scorer Alexander Kerzhakov out of the squad. They will also be without injured midfielder Alan Dzagoev because of a broken metatarsal and left back/wing back Yuri Zhirkov because of an Achilles problem.
Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and Ryan Bertrand have all had minor injuries this week but are available.
It depends which Russia turns up on Saturday, if it's the one that's lost their friendly games we should be OK, but if it's the one that recovered from a difficult start, we could be in trouble. It must be a national disease that pumps us all full of hope for the national team after being let down by so many golden generations and golden balls. I cant help myself from being optimistic about our chances and I'm buoyed by our young squad which I think will suit this competition. So as ever it's a positive prediction, 3-1 to England!