England v Russia
Sunday June 12, 5:00am
Russia reached the semis at the 2008 Championships but they’ve been a fading force since then as they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and have been eliminated at the knockout stages of the two tournaments since then.
This is still a very similar squad, with 13 of the 23 aged 29 or above, and while they should be well organised and disciplined they don’t look particularly dynamic.
Their last five matches at major Finals have all had fewer than three goals as have eight of their 11 games against top-20 ranked sides since 2012, while they’ve lost the last three of those that weren’t at home.
England are rightly favourites in Group B and having gone through qualifying with a 100% record expectations are far higher for Roy Hodgson’s side than two years ago.
We rate Russia as their toughest opponents in this group but with a significant difference between them and they look strong favourites heading into this match.
Since 2010, England are unbeaten in 10 competitive games against teams ranked 20-50 with six wins, and with friendly wins over the two biggest favourites for this tournament, Germany and France, in the past year they should win this match.
England’s defence is their weakness but given Russia’s less than formidable attack and likely conservative style we expect the Three Lions to start this tournament with a clean sheet and also a win. Under 2.5 Goals looks likely but at around 1.60 is a bit short for us to get involved in. So we’ll stick to the England Win at 2.0 and the Win to Nil at 3.1. However, Russia do have the ability to frustrate so an England Clean Sheet at 2.3 offers the added cover on the game finishing 0-0.
One player that Russia will have to pay particularly close attention to if they are to pick up a point here is Harry Kane, who has scored in two of this last three starts for England and netted nine times in his final 10 Premier League games this season. He’s 2.5 to score at some point and 6.0 to be the first name on the scoresheet, as he’s been in five of his last 14 starts for club and country.
BACK – Harry Kane to Score at 2.50