Soccer: France Take on England at Euro 2012
You want to talk about rivalry? There are centuries of conflict between France and England as two of the biggest rivals in Soccer get ready to do battle at UEFA Euro 2012.
This means a lot
The rivalry between England and France goes back to the Norman conquest of 1066. From then through to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, these two arch-rivals barely took a break from armed combat. Once they stopped fighting for good, these great nations needed a new way to do battle. Sports has provided that arena and none more so than Soccer. In 28 contests England leads the all-time series 16-8 with 4 games ending in draws.
When it comes to major honours however Les Bleus have been the unquestioned kings. Wins in the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship put the French on top of the Soccer betting world. France returned to the World Cup Final in 2006. All the while England stuttered along, barely making a dent in the knockout stages of any tournament. Now Roy Hodgson’s men have a chance to strike a blow for the home of the game, summoning up the spirit of Agincourt to once more go boldly into the breach.
A confined battlefield
England are going to play tight tonight, really tight. In their friendly wins over Belgium and Norway, England displayed a new approach focused exclusively on better organisation. Roy Hodgson’s reputation as a manager is billed on having assembled some of the most well-drilled teams in the history of Soccer. Though he has never succeeded at the highest level, Hodgson has been able to bring underdog outfits further than anyone expected.
That attitude to the game will be crucial against a French team high on flair but somewhat lacking in functionality. On paper the French have superior firepower up front. England’s defensive system could confound Laurent Blanc’s men today, particular as Les Bleus have struggled against far less nuanced outfits. For England the challenge will be in finding a way to create scoring chances. The French are far from inept at the back but recent friendlies showed they are prone to mental lapses. Much like his successes at Fulham and West Brom, Hodgson will have England’s players tuned in to targeting those moments when French minds wander. Monday’s clash of the oldest of enemies promises to be a fascinating battle. England and France wouldn’t have it any other way.