Roy Hodgson
After an eventful and unsettling few weeks of preparation, Roy Hodgson will lead out England for the first time in a competitive international, against France. Reuters

When and where: The Euro 2012 Group D clash kicks-off from the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine, at noon ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3. Fans in the U.K. can watch a free live stream on

Preview: Attention will be on Donetsk's Donbass Arena on Monday as England take on France in one of the most eagerly awaited matchups of Euro 2012's group phase.

In their own way both nations enjoyed a World Cup to forget in South Africa and are looking to show this summer that they are well on the road to recovery.

Yet it is France that are at a more advanced stage of that revival. Following a chaotic campaign two years ago where players went on strike against then coach Raymond Domenech, France installed Laurent Blanc as coach and the former defensive great went about restoring pride in the French shirt.

In the likes of Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri, Blanc has overseen a talented generation of players, who are beginning to fulfill their potential for Les Bleus. However, the big knock against this French team is that the ability of the players going forward is not matched by those in defensive areas.

It is also at the back where Blanc faces his biggest questions in terms of selection. The experienced Philippe Mexes had been expected to lineup alongside Adil Rami. But Mexes' poor season for Milan coupled with some disappointing outings for France have led many to suggest that Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny should instead get a starting role. Calls that were increased after Koscielny's strong showing in a warm-up against Serbia.

For the match with England, France will also be missing their first choice defensive midfielder Yann M'Vila, after the Arsenal target suffered an ankle injury in the aforementioned Serbia friendly.

While France were able to make a swift change after the World Cup, England kept faith with renowned boss Fabio Capello. At least they did, up until the increasingly unhappy union was eventually torn apart just four months before the finals.

What's more, Capello's replacement was only named a matter of weeks ago, as Roy Hodgson took the reins. The veteran coach oversees an England squad that is arguably the weakest the country has taken to a major finals in recent memory. And, with that in mind, Hodgson is an ideal selection as manager. The 64-year-old having carved out a reputation for maximizing results with unfancied teams based on a rigid shape borne out of tireless attention to detail.

For England, there are two factors that could decide their fate this summer. Firstly, whether Hodgson will have had enough time to instill his ideas into the players and, furthermore, if a squad of individuals often viewed as having massively swollen egos , will get on board with working to their coach's unrelenting and often repetitive training drills.

The signs in England's two 1-0 victories in their warm-up matches were positive that the players may be taking Hodgson's messages on board.

England, though, have been besieged by injuries in preparation for the tournament. Four players have been forced to withdrawn from the squad meaning that England's already shallow pool of talent could be exposed. As if that weren't enough, the Three Lions will also be missing star man Wayne Rooney for their first two fixtures, through suspension.

England (probable, 4-4-1-1)

G: Hart

D: Johnson. Terry, Lescott, Cole

M: Milner, Parker, Gerrard, Downing


F: Welbeck

France (probable, 4-3-2-1)

G: Lloris

D: Debuchy, Mexes, Rami, Evra

M: Cabaye, A. Diarra, Malouda

Nasri, Ribery

F: Benzema

Prediction: Going forward, there is little doubt that France will have significantly superior players on show. Expect France to control the possession, with Cabaye getting plenty of touches in the middle of the park and Nasri and Ribery looking to cause problems coming in from their nominally wide berths. With England sure to be happy to concede both ground and the ball, much will depend on their concentration and organization in defensive areas.

But, If Hodgson does go for James Milner and Stewart Downing on the flanks, then England will face the problem of having little pace to launch effective counter-attacks.

With opening game nerves and given that both teams potentially wouldn't be too unhappy with a draw, a stalemate could be on the cards. But if France grab an early goal, it will make it difficult for England to come out of their shell and make an effective recovery.

England 1-2 France