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Preview: England v Russia

Roy Hodgson is "pleased" with the selection headaches he has before England's Group B curtain-raiser against a Russia side missing two first-choice midfielders.

England captain Wayne Rooney and manager Roy Hodgson at Friday's press conference
England captain Wayne Rooney and manager Roy Hodgson at Friday's press conference ©Panoramic
  • England and Russia begin their Group B campaigns at the impressive Stade Vélodrome
  • Russia helped to eliminate England in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2008
  • Roy Hodgson's England won all ten matches en route to UEFA EURO 2016
  • Russia are without a victory in three games, conceding seven goals in that time
  • Follow our team reporters for the inside track: @UEFAcomSimonH and @UEFAcomRichVP


Possible line-ups

England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Alli; Lallana, Rooney, Sterling; Kane.
Out
: none
Doubtful: none

Russia: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, V Berezutski, Ignashevich, Schennikov; Golovin, Neustädter; Smolov, Shatov, Kokorin; Dzyuba.
Out: none
Doubtful: Glushakov (muscle strain), Torbinski (virus)

Roy Hodgson, England manager
We've got qualities, there is no doubt about that – the fact we are so inexperienced in age and number of caps can't possibly be seen as an advantage, but the lack of experience we have in the team is counteracted in some way by the youth, energy and enthusiasm of a group of players keen to do well. We've only three players who've survived since EURO 2012.

There is definitely a selection headache in terms of so many good players who could quite easily command a place in the team. I’m pleased with the headaches and that having gone through three matches and some intensive training we still have all our players available. We know we have a team who, if they perform to the level we think they can perform to, will make it difficult for our opponents.

We have a lot of respect for Russia. We think they are a very good team, a very experienced team with lot of players who've played together a long time at CSKA and Zenit.

Everything you need to know about England in 30 seconds
Everything you need to know about England in 30 seconds

Leonid Slutski, Russia coach
If we knew the English team today, it would be a bit easier for us. Therefore we are using the same logic in our preparations by naming the starting line-up as late as possible.

There is always a debate between youth and experience. It is impossible to say which is better and we have had this discussion on a number of occasions. We will also have a lot of players who will be experiencing a major tournament for the first time.

I don't think it would be correct to say whether this is the most important match of my career. I know there is a lot of responsibility with the whole country watching and I would like us to play good football tomorrow and for them to get the result they want.

Dzyuba scored 29 goals in all competitions last season and was one of the top scorers in the group stage of the Champions League. He has a number of great qualities aside from his height.

UEFA.com team reporters
Simon Hart, England (@UEFAcomSimonH)
Hodgson's team will be looking to do something no group of England footballers have previously managed at a EURO finals – win their opening game. They should have enough goals and enough speed to upset a Russia side with an ageing defence and key absences.

Yet the question remains: what solution will Hodgson find to restore his team's balance after a lopsided line-up featuring three attackers – Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy – struggled against Portugal in their last pre-finals friendly? All the rumours suggest Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling, substitutes in that 2 June fixture, will start tomorrow, with Kane leading the attack and Vardy dropping to the bench.

1988 highlights: England 1-3 USSR
1988 highlights: England 1-3 USSR

Richard van Poortvliet (@UEFAcomRichVP)
The build-up to the tournament has not been kind to Slutski, who has lost two key midfielders – Igor Denisov and Alan Dzagoev – to injury, while Denis Glushakov is also now a doubt, meaning Roman Neustädter could be thrust into cauldron of the Stade Vélodrome. The pace of England's young forwards could cause Russia's ageing but experienced defence problems, but Slutski must also make sure that he makes full use of Russia's own riches in attack.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
England: WWWLWWLWWW
Russia: DLLWLWWWWW

Did you know?
England have not lost over 90 or 120 minutes in 22 EURO fixtures, going back to a 3-2 defeat by Croatia in November 2007 – since then their record is W17 D5, although they were beaten on penalties by Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals. Find out more in our extensive match background.

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