George Torr looks at how England performed in their opener against France
I could probably speak on behalf of the nation that a sigh of relief was cast as the final whistle went at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine. There aren’t many times I punch the air in the result of draw, but I did on this occasion.
Gerrard and co were never given a real chance of coming away with anything but Roy Hodgson and his boys battled a hotly tipped French side to a well deserved 1-1 draw.
The city of Donetsk is renowned for its steel industry, and this was certainly an industrial performance from England who was labelled the clear underdogs, they stifled and frustrated ‘Les Bleus’ from start to finish.
After injuries which savaged the midfield, the Rio Ferdinand business, the two match suspension given to Wayne Rooney and less than a month to get the team together, it was great point for the Three Lions under the situation that Hodgson was faced with.
France stated their attacking intent before kick-off selecting Nasri, Ribery and Malouda all supporting Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema as a lone striker.
Laurent Blanc’s French side were clearly annoyed by England’s negative tactics. But my self and the rest of the England fans simply do not care. Hodgson got it spot on.
The England team selection was surprising but welcoming.
The option to include 18 year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a bold move to gamble on such a young player. But the young winger from Arsenal didn’t look out of place in such an occasion. His pace and trickery really did test the French back line numerous times.
The unlucky man to miss out in his position was Stewart Downing, which delighted my self immensely. No disrespect to Stewart, (mainly due to the fact he scored a 30 yard volley for me on Football Manager 2012 just hours previous to this) but how can a player with no goals and assists for his club side make it into the England squad?
On a more serious note, England really do need to turn up the heat against Sweden in their next game if they want to stand any chance of progressing in this tournament.
Although Hodgson will take heart after watching a lacklustre Sweden side go down to co-hosts Ukraine 2-1, goals have to come from somewhere and the likes of Welbeck, Defoe and Carroll need to step up to the plate in the absence of talisman Rooney. Who will undoubtedly return against Ukraine.