The English national team opens its Euro 2016 campaign against Russia this Saturday, with the England vs Russia odds from the bookies making Hodgson’s men 10/11 favourites to win the game.
Despite not being able to reach the ½ finals of the competition since the 1996 edition on home soil, it’d be a huge surprise if England fails to qualify for the 1/8 finals.
Slovakia, Wales and Russia are all good teams, but England has a superior squad and if Hodgson fails to deliver, the FA would have to consider letting the former Liverpool manager go.
England enjoyed a magnificent qualifying campaign, winning all of their games and topping Group E with 30 points. The Three Lions conceded 3 goals in 10 qualifying games, but despite their solid defensive performances, they still couldn’t manage to beat Romania to the defensive record as the Eastern Europeans only conceded 2.
England’s flawless qualifying campaign is a very good base to build on and Hodgson’s team should start their quest for glory at Euro 2016 with a win against a Russian side that’s been ravaged by injuries.
Russia will be without three of their best players in Alan Dzagoev, Igor Denisov and Denis Cheryshev. Real Madrid winger Cheryshev underwent a thigh surgery last month, which ruled him out of the tournament.
Denisov and Dzagoev were regulars in Russia’s starting eleven in their qualifying campaign, but have also been ruled out of the tournament through injuries. 32-year-old Denisov suffered an injury in last month’s 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia, whereas Alan Dzagoev broke a bone in his foot during CSKA Moscow’s last game of the Russian Premier League.
Despite the severe injury problems, Leonid Slutsky is still optimistic about his team’s chances of making a mark in the tournament, but he’ll have to get his tactics spot on in order to compensate for the absentees.
Slutsky is likely to adopt defensive tactics for the game against England on Saturday, so Hodgson’s wingers would have to spread the play as much as possible in order to create more room for the striker and midfielders.
Hodgson could choose to start Vardy on the wing, but the Leicester star wouldn’t be able to use his pace against a packed defense.
If Hodgson’s determined to start with Vardy, then the 4-4-2 diamond formation would be the better choice for the game as Vardy is considerably better up front and the full backs would be able to stretch Russia’s defense.
Russia could experience difficulties in qualifying for the knockout stages, but Slutsky has already proven his ability to set up a counter attacking team.
He’s a very capable, tactically astute manager and it was no coincidence that CSKA Moscow have been so hard to beat in the last few years, especially in the Champions League.
England is rightfully the favourite to take the 3 points from the game against Russia. That being said, football is an unpredictable game and things could turn out completely differently if Hodgson makes the mistake of choosing the best individuals over the best team.