Cabaye: Gerrard is the soul of England

France midfielder Yohan Cabaye is looking forward to a great game against Euro 2012 rivals England as the pair prepare to meet in Group D, singling out Steven Gerrard as the most important player in Roy Hodgson's squad.

The 26-year-old is no stranger to the English game, having moved to the Premier League in 2011 to play for Newcastle United. Cabaye joins Magpie team-mate Hatem Ben Arfa in the French squad, while on the other side not a single Newcastle player received a call-up from Hodgson.

The two rivals will meet on Monday as they open their European campaigns, and the former Lille man is convinced that Gerrard is the star of the show for the Three Lions.

"We expect a big fight. We know how the English play but we are ready. There is no need to protect those who do not play in England. Even if they have missing players and are under strength, they remain a team of great players. We need a big team effort to beat them," he explained in Saturday's press conference.

"Steven Gerrard is the soul of England, although he has not played much this season. I like Danny Welbeck as well, he is doing beautiful things with Manchester United. We are in a position as an outsider. The English are bigger favourites than us. The Ukraine is at home also. We are not the favourites of the group."

Cabaye then credited playing at the Tyneside club as the reason why he has become used to a faster, more physical game.

"I think that the style of play of the Premier League, in which I myself am adapted, brought me intensity, and running about 12 kilometres in each game has offered me the opportunity to expand my horizons."

England and France will kick off in Donetsk on Monday, with Group D's opening fixtures completed by Ukraine hosting Sweden.

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