England qualified for Euro 2016 in imperious fashion, winning all ten matches. The quality of opposition was poor however with Switzerland the best of a bad bunch.
Their form in subsequent friendlies varied from excellent – when they beat Germany and France – to very ordinary in a couple of other matches.
What England have on their side in this tournament is young players such as Kane, Ali and Vardy who are coming off hugely successful seasons in the English Premier League and who have not (yet) tasted failure with the Three Lions on their chests.
Where Roy Hodgson plays Wayne Rooney is also a factor after playing the majority of the season in midfield for Man Utd. Personally, I wouldn’t even have Rooney in the squad. He’s played 600+ games at the very highest level and those miles on the clock have taken their toll but Hodgson will play him for sure, most probably behind Kane and Vardy or perhaps Sturridge.
Russia won 5, drew 2 and lost 2 of their qualifiers and looked to be coming into the tournament as dark horses but the injury to key midfielder Dazagoev will hurt them. They still have a settled team despite that absence with more than half of the starting 11 likely to come from club side CSKA Moscow.
England will doubtless be nervy and Russia’s defence that conceded just five goals in nine qualifying matches will be tough to break down. This looks likely to be a low scoring, tense affair.
In summary, England should have enough to win this after what’s likely to be slow start.