United Rant Live! England v France



Eight years on from England’s 2-1 defeat to France at Euro 2004 and the sides meet again in Donetsk, Ukraine, late Monday afternoon. Once again France will start favourites to emerge victorious, with England hampered by injuries, a late change of manager, and a general lack of quality! But can Roy Hodgson’s men ‘park the bus’ against France and pull off an unlikely result?

There’s plenty of Manchester United interest in this one, with Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young set to start for the Three Lions, and Patrice Evra with France. Suspended Wayne Rooney will watch from the sidelines, while Phil Jones will be on England’s bench.

Join United Rant for our third live blog of the tournament, with Ed and Jony Ball from around 4.30pm, with news updates throughout the day.

 

Jony Ball - Monday 19:20

And Goodbye From Me….

An absolute pleasure Ed…..

Hope I didn’t bore anyone…… The Game was bad enough……

At least my prediction was right… I’m pouring a TurBorg as a Prize!!!!

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Ed - Monday 19:18

Goodnight from us

Thanks for joining Rant for another Euro 2012 live blog. We’ll be back with another one of these soon. There’s a lot of positivity coming out of the England camp tonight – wonder if that’s relief more than anything else. The next two games are no gimmes though. It’s still going to be a very very tight group for Roy Hodgson’s men.

Thanks also to Jony Ball for joining me for this United Rant live blog!

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Jony Ball - Monday 19:05

Wrap Up…..

Agree that the next game must be a win….. I really think we’ll struggle going into the Ukraine game with England Needing a win!!!!

Cue Rooney Red Card and United Hate!!

Just can’t see the creativity in THIS England formation / Set-up to progress any further…..

 

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Ed - Monday 19:00

Wrap up

Nothing truly surprising there. France passed the ball much better – twice as good according to the stats – and created far more chances – 20 to England’s 5. France technically superior, England stubborn.

In the second half England suffered for not having the ball enough and tired very obviously. Against other teams England will be punished for that. Sweden and Ukraine will be very different games. Sweden a bit more direct, Ukraine not very good but with the backing of a partizan home crowd.

England should in a good position to qualify assuming that Sweden doesn’t emerge victorious on Friday. Three points against Ukraine is a must.

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:59

Read Chav$ki for England….

Ed…. are we really going to take the Chelsea Approach to this tournament??

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:57

Thoughts…..

So Ed what did you think on England’s Heroic Defensive performance??

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Ed - Monday 18:55

The Stats, part 2

So those end of match stats. Doesn’t look pretty for England in attacking or passing. France 20 shots to England’s 5. France 600 successful passes to England’s less than 300. That tells a big story. But in the end 1-1 is the stat that matters of course. Roy Hodgson will be delighted with a point against technically superior opposition and on to the game against a Sweden side that should be more of an even match.

Passing

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:50

Tournament Prediction…..

So far on the games I’ve seen I’d Have to say Germany… Able to win still playing poor.

England and France play a rather Drab Draw , where their skills easily found out our passion..

Labelled a goodnight….

 

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:48

England depth

Well you wouldn’t want to take your best players… that would just be ridiculous for them to sit on the bench!!!

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:46

Walcott = Dick Turpin

Roy Hodgson ready to throw on Walcott in a last minute effort to steal the game….

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Ed - Monday 18:45

England’s depth

Not in quality, that’s clearly lacking, but on the pitch. If England get any deeper here they’ll finish the match in Poland.

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:44

Fizzling Out

both teams playing at half place and seem happy with the draw…. France the only one pushing for a Victory….

 

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Ed - Monday 18:43

ITV moaning

Is it possible to watch an England game without the patriotic drivel? From a failure to acknowledge France’s technical superiority, to a persistent and grating complaint about the referee during the match. No need for our collective intelligence to be insulted Clive and Andy. It’s not politics, there’s no need for balance, but it’s pretty obvious that this England side isn’t very good, and there isn’t some conspiracy to rob proud brave England and Saint George of a draw… ok thanks.

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:42

5 Mins….

As predicted by Ed, all the play around the England box….

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:40

Answers..

Yes….

Yes….

Who Knows….

No…..

No……

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Ed - Monday 18:38

Last ten

Expect France to push really hard. Henerson’s brief will be to sit in front of the back four now. Not his natural role. Then again, what is Henderson’s natural role, except as a substitute?!

Do France have enough to take advantage of England’s obvious tireness? Can England snatch an unexpected winner?

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:37

And The Bafta Award……

The French Harry Potter with lightening  Scar makes his bid for Creative interpretation….

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Ed - Monday 18:35

Substitutions

Oxlade-Chamerlain comes off for Jermaine Defoe. Ashley Young moves to wide left and England switch to a very standard 4-4-2. Meanwhile, Scot Parker is coming off for Jordan Henderson. Yes, Henderson in the England side ahead of Michael Carrick.

“Henderson not everyone’s idea of an international player,” says Tyldsley on ITV. No shit sherlock, says the country!

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:33

Ed?

Is Milner still playing???

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Ed - Monday 18:32

Those passing stats

Like a broken record here, but ITV’s patriotic coverage isn’t filling in the blanks. As England hoof another free kick forward a stat briefly flashed up on screen showing France’s superior use of the ball… if you didn’t catch it here are the really useful numbers…

Passing

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:32

Welbeck

Great strong play chasing down another hopeful Punt and eventually sets up ‘The Ox’ who runs down a blind alley!!

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:30

Henderson??

Did I hear right, Henderson warming up is a good thing??

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:28

Patriotism

Where suddenly players you’ve slagged off, racially abused and bought into parental question…..

Are suddenly okay…….

 

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Ed - Monday 18:25

The Threat

Bizarrely ITV claims France “not carrying any more of a threat than England”. The stats say otherwise, but perhaps we’re missing something here at Rant. Forgot to get on the patriotic bandwagon…

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:24

schmoozing

Is Nasri asking on the sly where Evra’s been wiping Body parts Ed????

 

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Ed - Monday 18:22

Who was Nasri shooshing?

Some at the game claiming the Manchester City man was telling England’s coach Gary Neville to be quiet when France equalised…

Nasri

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:21

Good News……

France are NOT Spain or Germany….

Possession:

France 56% England 44%

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Ed - Monday 18:20

Ribery (not tired)

ITV’s Andy Townsend claims Ribery is “just tired and wants a rest” with the French winger rolling around in pain. French players aren’t happy that England didn’t stop the attack – the ref makes that call after all. But then the slow mo shows James Milner treading on Ribery’s ankle. You were saying, Mr Townsend?

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:18

Ribery

feels the touch……………..

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:17

Welbeck

Feel really sorry for him now…..absolutely no quality ball into him unless he drops right into mid-field

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Ed - Monday 18:17

Glenn Johnson

England’s most potent attacking force at the moment. He’s leaving a lot of space behind him though so the right-to-left crossfield ball might be a dangerous one for France if Johnson stays too far up field, especially as the game goes on. You read it here first etc.

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:16

referring

again not particularly impressive……

 

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:15

England

Interesting mix of……..

Hoof it up the Channels…..

Run A lot……

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Ed - Monday 18:13

France

Interesting mix of tiki-taka triangles, but Blanc’s team is prepared to knock a ball into the box and to work the ball front back to front quickly (not directly). France could do well in this tournament, but that back four will be Les Bleus undoing. Mexes and Rami no better than average. So are Terry and Lescott, of course, but England’s averageness in other areas gives them some cover!

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:11

Evraaaaaaaa

Great overlap and cross by Paddy Evra, cleared for a corner by Gerrard!!

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:10

oh deary deary me…. terrible attack by that piece of grass……

Gerrard falls back to type and tries to draw a foul…..

TV doesn’t feel the need to review or discuss this……

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Ed - Monday 18:10

Dive!

Of course England players don’t dive. Stevie Me absolutely did not deliberately fall over an outstretched French leg. Oh no Sir, England players don’t do that. Oh wait. He did….

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:08

Payoff

i think Ed it was that or ADMIT the pictures really did show Parker was ‘That’ sort of player!!!!

 

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:07

Corner England….

Comfortable for Lloris…. Poor delivery….

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Ed - Monday 18:06

Sacrilege

Tyldsley admits France dominated possession. Shhh. Oi Clive, come here… don’t do that mate, it’ll get you the order of the boot! But the second half has started much as the first ended, with England struggling to keep the ball and France looking to break England down with some good movement and ball retention.

How long can England resist the retention to drop deep? That will dictate the pattern of the second half for sure.

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:06

COMMENTARY BIAS….

Tyldsey tells us Parker isn’t that sort of player as he goes down at the slightest brush of the face from Ribbery….

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:04

POSSESSION?

It took approximately 29 secs for an england player (this time Parker) plays a ball aimlessly infield in the strikers general direction….

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Ed - Monday 18:03

Second half

France ended the first period well on top, with a passing game that was, statistically speaking, almost twice as good as Englands. No subsitutions at half time but will either coach have changed things tactically? Nothing obvious, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Diarra drop on to his centre halves just little to provide a bit of protection, while Malouda may play a little wider to try and pull England’s back four out of position.

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Jony Ball - Monday 18:02

SECOND HALF KICKS OFF……

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:59

punditry…

Southgate Surprised by how much time we’re allowed on the ball……..

Not surprising if they Know we’re only going to pass it back…. I thinks its more France Know they can let us have the ball at the back…..

See previous…….

 

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Ed - Monday 17:55

Half time

And England in this one, but only just. The pattern is set. France’s superior use of the ball, possession and creativity should tell in the end, even if Laurent Blanc’s men took 30 minutes or so to get into the game.

England’s back four is being pulled around though, while the English midfield gives the ball away too much and tries to hit the front men too early. Don’t expect the half-time pundits to admit that though. Up and at them, etc…

England passing

France passing

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:55

CRINGE…..

I’m honestly in Pain when I here Jamie Carrigher Speak…….

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:53

Sol Campbell….

Must admit to a begrudging respect to Sol’s response with saying he’ll give back his caps…….

Fair play to the lad for growing some principles…..

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:51

……..Dubbin’………???

Dubbin’ was that Ed?

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Ed - Monday 17:50

Football reasons

Yes, Jony Ferdinand’s stats match up very well against any possible alternate English defender. But we all know what the REAL reasons were. Like the boots, Terry doesn’t like b…..

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:47

HT: 1-1

so prediction so far so correct….

And Childs calls it inconvenient!!!

He’ll be getting all warm and moist with expectation next!!!

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:46

Ed?

Football Reason??

Wasn’t Rio’s Stats for dribbling stops / ball retention/ passes/ long passes ALL better than the current pairing

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:44

Corner France….

Terry slices the ball away for a corner….

cleared by Parker…

Moved out to Ribery…

Cross cut out…

Wave after wave as Englands normal failure returns

Unable to Keep Possession™

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Ed - Monday 17:42

Gerrard

Up to his old tricks here, wandering away from his core holding position and giving away possession. Stats show that each of the top six passers in the game so far are FRENCH. It’s the English disease.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:42

Best Keeper in the World™ 

lololololololololololololololol

 

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:40

France Level 1-1………….

Nasri repeats the shot from earlier in the game…. this time firmly planted inside the post……. Englands Defensive Banks breached as no-one can get near Nasri……

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Ed - Monday 17:40

Equaliser

Hart beaten at the near post and it’s 1-1. You’ve got to say as cleanly as Nasri strikes that Hart should never be beaten at the near post like that. Best Keeper in the World™ … yeah, right.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:39

Betting….

what’s the odds on ‘The Ox’ getting a second yellow and crucified by the media as the reason for England failing…..

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Ed - Monday 17:39

It’s no Italy versus Spain

The technical quality on show is pretty limited. France trying to play neat one-twos in and around the England box, which England is defending well. England, more direct/quicker to try and play the killer ball. There’s a lack of patience and its all a little bit messy at the moment.

Odd that there’s no pressing from England. Bit of old fashioned defending based on ‘shape’ rather than forcing the opposition to make a mistake a la Barcelona.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:37

Save….

Hart parry’s a good header as Terry’s  defensive strength fails him and a free header is allowed in the box!!!!

Opps!!

Scrambled the ball away on the rebound…

Surprised Benzema has taken up a left sided position… anyone think the French thinks Johnson-Terry partnership is a weak link!!

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Ed - Monday 17:36

Hart

Thumping header from Diarra, really should have got that down or to the side though and it would have been a goal. Big let off for England and a warning…

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:34

New Tactic…

31 mins in 1-0 Up…. take ball… go home and leave coach parked in front of Goal…… expect Barry on at some time!!

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Ed - Monday 17:34

Poor defending from France

Diarra lost Lescott in the area, and the central defenders were nowhere to be seen. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris beat with a header from about five yards out… but the ball had travelled 40 yards or so, the keeper had to be stronger there. If that had been David de Gea the knives would be out!

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Ed - Monday 17:32

Set pieces!

Joleon Lescott! Well that BIG ugly forehead did the business for England. Good delivery in from Steven Gerrard and England go 1-0 up in Donetsk somewhat against the run of play. France has been the better side, but Plan A is now in play. England can sit back, soak up pressure and try and hit France on the break.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:31

GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

England 1-0

Gerrard Free kick and Lescott does whatt he does well – Strong header in the six yd box…..

Cue Media Hysteria……………

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:30

Half & Half Scarfs….

Ed Burn them now….. Burn whoever wearing them…… Burn Whoever selling them….. Free the workers forced to make them AND then burn the factories….

I’m not really in the Half/half camp!!!!

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Ed - Monday 17:28

Half and half scarves

Don’t get it. Don’t get it at all. Maybe a local, and it’s almost acceptable in the, erm, ‘friendly’ atmosphere at a tournament. But it’s sickening when those City/United or Liverpool/United half and halves go on sale outside Old Trafford.

Scarves

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:25

Formation….

Some great French Movement does seem to be dragging the England defensive Banks out of position…… Worrying for a team that’s going to be based on rigidity…

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Ed - Monday 17:25

Face/Off

Who’s uglier Franck Ribery or Joleon Lescott?!

What they don’t have to worry about is employment. Hollywood will be calling once their football careers are over. Plenty of horror films still being made.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:23

Welbeck Injury

Fell awkward or Mr.Commentator did he have a large Centrehalf Land on the side of his foot….

HashTag Metatarsal!!!

Thumbs up – OKay  Welbz!!

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Ed - Monday 17:23

Evra

Plenty in the French media didn’t want the United man in the side. No surprise since his last few performances with Le Bleus have been completely underwhelming. Big tournament for the defender because it’s probably his last in the French shirt. Not good so far, got skinned by Ashley Young and gave away the ball in a good attacking position.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:21

Chicken and the Egg….

Who came first….? Ranieri V SAF – The Tinker-Off!!!

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:20

Young…..

If he was to happen to find an opposition foot in the box and then happened to fall to the floor assisting gravity to reduce his carbon footprint with a well executed full face dive…… how many of these media chumps will criticise him??

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Ed - Monday 17:19

Young v Park

It’s a no contest on that one from Me, Jony!! Then again Sir Alex didn’t think Player of the Year Antonio Valencia deserved a place ahead of Park in the biggest game of the season.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:18

Le Bleus Run…

21 games over 21 months including Brazil – i didn’t know that!!!!

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Ed - Monday 17:18

Young and Welbeck

Combining well already, but its the movement that is causing France all sorts of problems. England need to keep the ball in midfield, and they will fashion chances. Adil Rami and Phillip Mexes in central defence definitely the weak link in Les Bleus side.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:17

Ed?

Has anyone mentioned to SAF that Young’s quite good at creativity??? Maybe we should play him instead of Park!!!

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Ed - Monday 17:16

Young to Milner!

Lovely pass from United’s Young sliding in James Milner, but the Manchester City man fluffed the big opportunity by hitting it wide with the goal gaping. Huge huge miss, with Milner found technically lacking on his left foot.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:15

Empty Net 

Milner rounds the keeper and decides that an empty net should be left with its cherry!!!

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Ed - Monday 17:14

French Fluidity

ITV’s Clive Tyldsley calls it right – the French far more fluid across midfield already, with England misplacing too many passes and looking to get it forward far to early. France patient, by contrast, and trying to create triangles through midfield. That will tell in the end because England will work harder.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:14

RIBERY LEAVES PARKER FOR DEAD……

lovely bit of skill from Le Bleus Ribery on the right side of the box leaves Englands Wonder midfielder Parker completely flat footed!!!

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:12

Nasri Shot

lt side of 18yd box …. Just wide with some of the crowd thinking it’d sneaked in!!!

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Ed - Monday 17:12

Best Keeper in the World™

Flapped at his first cross. The hype, as always, far too strong when it comes to England players. Hart’s a very good keeper but the best in the world? Nowhere near until he proves it at international and Champions League level. If he does that.. then the bragging should start.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:11

Englands Number 1

Hart Fumbles a cross…. Glad to have DDG now???

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Ed - Monday 17:10

Hoooof!

Few too many long balls already by England. It’s not the default tactical mindset but when the options run out that’s when English defenders tend to launch it long and lose possession. England will struggle to retain the ball without hopefully punts forward.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:10

Interesting Commentary Pun….

talking about France attacking on the break…. Are we really expected to have that much possession???

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:08

FREEKICK…

Swung in deep. Benzema retrieves and crosses… cross taken by Hart

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:07

PUNT!!…

first hopeful punt by cole down the middle

mmmm…. possession???

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Ed - Monday 17:06

The Queen

And her doppelgänger has apparently turned up to watch the game, corgis in tow. How very patriotic.

The Queen

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:06

Corner…

John Terry slow turning circumference  again/ welbeck clears

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:05

Mullet Watch…

Mexes becomes the latest failure…..

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Ed - Monday 17:04

Black boot watch, part 2

One again very few players with black boots on tonight. Looks like the referee might be the only one, although Joleon Lescott’s are a nifty black/white combo. White appears to be the predominant colour, with a few bright oranges here and there.

That’s the kind of hard-hitting analysis you (don’t) pay for here on Rant.

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Jony Ball - Monday 17:03

Predictions…

France 1-1 England (Terry Wins World Cup and Runs onto field In full kit with cup!)

Ukraine 2-0 Sweden

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Ed - Monday 17:01

Agincourt, Waterloo, Donetsk?

ITV losing all perspective on the game there with some odd pre-match commentary. Not all that surprising, although ITV’s coverage has been excellent through to tournament to date. Nice balance of pundits, although Chiles’ smug grin does spoil it some what. Nice studio though…

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Ed - Monday 16:57

The Fans, part 2

Lots and lots of locals turned out for this one, many wearing England shirst. There shouldn’t be too many of the empty spaces that spoilt earlier games in this tournament.

God Save the Queen sung with gusto as always, although My Boi Welbz, zup zup didn’t. Who can blame him, with Red Nev as his coach!

La Marseilles – definitely one of the better anthems at the tournament.

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Jony Ball - Monday 16:56

WARM UP…..

Dog Fed, Turburg in glass, Sausages on…

Stand up for the Anthem

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Ed - Monday 16:55

The Dressing Rooms

Racing seats in the dressing rooms… odd, but look pretty luxurious at the Donbass Arena.

Dressing rooms

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Ed - Monday 16:52

Predictions

It’s a Rant tradition to completely screw up the predictions. So here we go, mine is England 0-2 France. Les Bleus simply have too much in midfield for me. But of course, England will be hard to break down, so there’s no reason parking the bus couldn’t win out over “playing football” – as Laurent Blanc put it.

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Ed - Monday 16:49

Donbass Arena

You want to know all about it, don’t you?! Well Wikipedia comes to our rescue:

Donbass Arena or Donbas Arena (Ukrainian: Донбас Арена, Russian: Донбасc Арена) is a stadium with a natural grass pitch in Donetsk, Ukraine that opened on 29 August 2009. The facility is located in the center of the city, in the Lenin Comsomol park. With a capacity of 52,518 spectators, the Stadium hosts FC Shakhtar Donetsk matches and will host some matches in Euro 2012. It is also one of the popular nightlife spots in Donetsk.
The initial estimated cost of the project was USD 250m. USD 30m has been allocated to set up a recreational park around the Stadium. The final cost of the project will reach USD 400m.
The name of the stadium represents the shortened name for the Donets basin industrial region, hence – Donbas, however the official name in English spells after the Russian orthography.

So that’s you told, then …

Donbass Arena

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Ed - Monday 16:45

The Fans

Around about 8,000 England fans in the stadium tonight – 5,000 via the ‘official’ tour, and another 3,000 who made their own way to Donetsk in the east of Ukraine. Normally one of the best supported teams in tournaments, but there are far fewer English fans here than Irish, Germany or Dutch…

Economic problems, disillusionment with the team, bit of both?

England Fans

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Jony Ball - Monday 16:44

<<BREAKING NEWS>>

 

Ray Clemence Snaps an Achilles tendon in the warm up……

Roy Hodgson looks at calling up Pepe Reina…..

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Ed - Monday 16:41

ITV’s Rooney analysis

Rooney sitting quietly taking in a sports drinking so, obviously, labelled as a “sulking teenager” by ITV’s Adrian Chiles. You know?

Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson says Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has earned his start. Football reasons?!

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Jony Ball - Monday 16:37

Earliest Memories

Watching the 1992 Robson 15 second goal with so much pride…..

Team News so unmiraculous, not even Adrian Childs can get excited!! Mmmmmm an excited Childs moment probably not best in HD!! **turn off 3D glasses in Fear**

C’Mon Welbz……

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Jony Ball - Monday 16:36

Its Hello from me Jony Ball…

So Ed gets it right as Sky Sports announce exactly the same side….

The Ox Plays and Danny Welbeck gets the nod ahead of Carroll after his strong showing against Belgium

No Sir Fergie tinkering from the England boss……

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Ed - Monday 16:16

The Teams, part 2

As predicted earlier. England: Oxlade-Chamberlain is in for Downing, Lescott replaces the injured Jaglielka. France as below too: Benzema leading the front four, with Nasri, Malouda and Ribery supporting.

On paper France looks a lot stronger, but can Les Bleus break down England’s two banks of four?

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Ed - Monday 14:49

Betting

The bookies not backing England to get anything out of this match, and who can blame them. Best odds:

France win 8/5
England win 5/2
Draw 2/1

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Ed - Monday 14:31

The Teams

The teams are sort of in. As of 2.30pm UK time the rumoured teams are as below. The big surprise in the England side, if true, is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s inclusion ahead of Stewart Downing.

England England (4-4-1-1): Hart; Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole; Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Young; Welbeck

 

France France (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra; Diarra, Cabaye; Nasri, Malouda, Ribéry; Benzema

 

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Ed - Monday 14:12

The Managers

Roy Hodgson: “I’ve enjoyed it so far, it’s been very good. It’s been anything but impossible. It’s not impossible to work with good players, it’s not impossible to work in perfect conditions, it’s not impossible to have everything that you possibly need as a football coach provided for you. What I take from those two games [Norway and Belgium friendlies] is the fact that the players are committed to what we’re trying to do to become a better team. There were some very encouraging signs in both games because we chose what I think were quite difficult matches for our warm-up friendlies. We went to Oslo, where Norway rarely lose, and took on Belgium who, at the moment, are a team with many players who are extremely highly rated all around Europe.”

Laurent Blanc: “We’ve had our own problems too. Don’t worry, the English will show up ready for us. They always want to win and even more so against the French. We have to forget everything that’s happened before. England are very strong in the tackle and very committed. I saw their two warm-up games [against Norway and Belgium] and if they play the same way, they’ll play very deep, with two banks of four and looking to counter. We’ll have to make sure not to leave too much space and get caught out, because Steven Gerrard is a very good passer.”

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Ed - Monday 12:59

Preamble

England: struck down with injuries, loss of form, Rio Ferdinand’s surprise omission, Roy Hodgson’s late call to the job, and a huge lack of quality throughout midfield. France: vibrant, resurgent, united, and full of attacking purpose. There’s only one winner tonight in Donetsk. Right? 18 months on from France’s lesson in ball retention at Wembley, when Blanc’s side won 2-1 against an experimental England team, Les Bleus are heavy favourites.

Well, football isn’t always that simple, as Barcelona and Bayern Munich might attest in last season’s Champions League final. Indeed, fans, players, and even Laurent Blanc expect England to ‘park the bus’ tonight. Will it be enough, and how bold is Hodgson prepared to be?

Much will depend on Hodgson’s team selection. Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Stewart Downing? Theo Walcott or James Milner? In each case the former suggests an attempt to take the game to France, with players who prefer the ball into feet. The latter, a more defensive, direct approach.

Meanwhile, Blanc has a plethora of attacking options at his disposal. Franck Ribéry, Karim Benzema, Yohan Cabaye, Samir Nasri, and Hatem Ben Afra could start. That’ll still leave a bench packed with talent, including Olivier Giroud, Jérémy Ménez and Marvin Martin.

Whomever you’re supporting, it should be a cracker!

Roy Hodgson

Laurent Blanc

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  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    what fucking thread are we using?

    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR “TERRY IS MY WARRIOR” – HODGSON, THREE VINDALOOS AND SIX PINTS A STELLA, HAVE THAT YOU CUNTS, AGINCOURT, BONEPARTE AND YOUR CRUSTY BAGUETTES

    OOO LA LA!

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Dannii – I’d use this one, I guess