Emotions will be running high at Wembley on Tuesday evening, as France arrive for a friendly international that is tinged with tragedy after the events in Paris last Friday.
Football Unites against Terrorism
What was once billed as a high profile friendly football match now becomes a statement to the world, that terrorism will not destroy the most popular game on the planet. The late Bill Shankley, the iconic Liverpool manager of the late 60’s and early 70’s, once famously quoted that “Football is not a matter of life or death; it’s much more important than that” and whilst nothing can erase from the memory the horrific footage of last week’s atrocities in the French capital, a simple game of football can begin to repair some of the damage inflicted on the lives of many who lost loved ones in the Paris attacks.
Not a “Normal friendly”
England head coach Roy Hodgson stated in his pre-match press conference that Tuesday’s game will not be a “normal friendly” continuing to explain that Friday’s events “will be lingering whether we like it or not. I’ve never been in a football game like this before.” England captain Wayne Rooney added his thoughts by stating that he was; “sickened” by the images and footage of the attacks in Paris, before stating that “It’s a sad time and in terms of going on the pitch we can only do that in the understanding that all the security checks have been made and it’s safe to do so. Unless we are told otherwise we are assuming that we are right and ready to play.”
It was an obviously pensive looking French coach Didier Deschamps that arrived with his team in London on Monday ahead of their training session on the Wembley pitch in the evening. He stated that his players were: “Here to represent our country and its colours blue, white and red with even more pride than we normally would.”
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick and his Manchester City counterpart Fabian Delph will miss the game through injuries picked up in Friday’s friendly defeat in Spain; Jesse Lindgard and Ryan Mason have been drafted in as replacements. The England head coach has revealed that six players under the age of 22 will start against the French, with the impressive Lindgard set to be one of them. He is currently quoted at *6.00 on the best football betting sites to be an anytime goalscorer).
For Deschamps, it’s more of a case of who feels they are able to play after Friday’s events. Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann’s sister was involved in the Bataclan siege, but thankfully escaped unhurt however, midfielder Lassana Diarra’s cousin was killed in the attacks. Many of the French squad were unhappy to have to play this fixture and it’s unlikely that their starting line-up will be revealed until just before kick-off. For the punter, striker André-Pierre Gignac looks good value on the betting exchanges at *3.50 to score during the 90 minutes.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
England (4-2-3-1) Butland; Gibbs, Cahill, Stones, Clyne; Alli, Dier; Sterling, Rooney, Lindgard; Kane
France (4-3-3) Lloris; Digne, Koscielny, Varane, Sagna; Matuidi, Schneiderlin, Cabaye; Martial, Gignac, Arfa
HEAD TO HEAD
The French won on their last visit to Wembley back in November 2010, when goals from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena gave them victory over Fabio Capello’s England side. The Three Lions’ last home win against the French came way back in February 1992 when goals by Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker gave the hosts a 2-0 success.
England 2.90 Draw 3.00 France 2.60
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)