France v England Euro 2012 latest odds, news and free bets

We’re getting close to England’s first match of Euro 2012, with Roy Hodgson’s men facing France in Donetsk in their Group D opener and the bookmakers are prepared to take on the Three Lions on Monday

The biggest odds about England is the 23/10 (Stan James free bets) that they get off to a flying start and perhaps some stout organisation could see the team go close despite having to cope with a number of injuries leading up to the tournament.

The English team on paper is still pretty strong although Hodgson has to make a decision on his midfield and also whether Andy Carroll or Danny Welbeck will line up in attack as the Three Lions look to win 1-0 for the third game running.

Carroll is a 9/1 chance (Ladbrokes free £50 bet) and Welbeck is the same price with the same bookie although perhaps Ashley Young is the player to back considering he will be feeding off a lone forward and also managed to find the net in a recent friendly against Norway.

England clearly respect France a great deal and will try to compete for possession in midfield which will see Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker up against Samir Nasri and Yohan Cabaye. Gerrard might get a few chances to foray forward and the captain of the national team is a 10/1 chance (Paddy Power) to break the deadlock.

France are the 6/4 (William Hill bookmaker) favourites to collect the three points and cement their claim for a place in the quarter final, with Les Bleus warming up very nicely for this tournament by thrashing Estonia 4-0. The Estonians weren’t too far away from qualifying for Euro 2012 considering they reached the play-offs before a hammering from Ireland.

Laurent Blanc has generated plenty of harmony in the French camp and the team boast one of the best strikers in Europe, with Karim Benzema notching a couple of goals against Estonia to boost his Golden Boot credentials, especially as Robin van Persie could be on an early plane home.

Benzema is favourite to score first in this match at 6/1 and he is the focal point of any French attack, with Franck Ribery and Nasri flanking the Real Madrid star, while Florent Malouda and Cabaye are capable of slide rule passes that could have the England defence on the back foot.

France are a 6/1 chance to win the game by a 1-0 scoreline and they can expect a very organised England team under Hodgson which means a bank of four defensive players protected by Gerrard and Parker, while Young, Walcott and potentially Downing will all be tracking back.

England are a 7/1 poke to sneak this match by the same scoreline and that would represent a dream start to this tournament, with John Terry available at 33/1 to score the opening goal and it might be set pieces where the Three Lions are most dangerous.

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