England will want to make the best possible start to their Euro 2016 campaign when they play Russia in Marseille on Saturday. England do not have a great record in opening matches of the European Championships, having never won one of them before. Wayne Rooney and co. will hope to make history by beating an injury-ravaged Russia side.
All the talk going into this match has been about England and how their team will be shaped. With Roy Hodgson having plenty of options to choose from in attack and midfield, the key will be to make the right ones and then have the confidence that the players will do what they need to do out on the pitch.
England are the favourites to top Group B, even with the other three teams being fairly strong –Wales and Slovakia make up the rest of the group. And while that immediately puts the pressure on the players, what Hodgson will want to do is take it one game at a time – beat Russia and then they can think about their next opponents, before pondering on where they might finish in the group.
Hodgson has named a youthful, inexperienced squad, filled with in-form players like Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Dele Alli, and the manager will hope that youthful exuberance will take England to heights they have never experienced before in the European Championships.
"We've got qualities, there is no doubt about that," Hodgson told UEFA's official website. "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 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."
Russia would have been a lot stronger had Leonid Slutski had his entire range to choose from, but injuries to four of his key players have really hit the team hard. However, this Euro 2016 is a really important tournament for Russia, considering they will be hosting the World Cup in 2018, and they will want to make an impression in France. A big England scalp in their opening game will be a nice beginning.
"I know there is a lot of responsibility with the whole country watching and I would like us to play good football (against England) and for them to get the result they want."
Where to Watch Live
England vs Russia is scheduled for a 9 p.m. local time (12.30 a.m. IST, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET) start. Here are the live streaming and TV options from around the world.
India: TV: Sony Six/HD and Sone ESPN/HD. Live Streaming: Sonyliv.
Russia: TV: Match TV, RTV and Channel One.
France: TV: Bein Sports 1. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.
USA: TV: ESPN 2 and ESPN 3. Live Streaming: Watch ESPN.
Canada: TV: TSN and RDS. Live Streaming: TSN TV.
Australia: TV: Bein Sports and SBS One. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.
Germany: TV: ZDF and ORF.
Latin America: TV: DirecTV.
China and Hong Kong: TV: CCTV and LeTV.
Thailand: TV: Channel 3.
Singapore: TV: Eleven Singapore and Singtel. Live Streaming: Singtel Go.
Malaysia: TV: Astro.
Middle East and North Africa: TV: Bein Sports Max. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.
South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: TV: SuperSport 3. Live Streaming: SuperSport Live Video.