Euro 2012

Hodgson: England won't fear France

England manager Roy Hodgson insisted Sunday his team were undaunted by France's scintillating form as the old rivals prepared for their Euro 2012 opener here Monday.

France have arrived in Ukraine firing on all cylinders, with a settled team wrapping up their tournament preparations last week with a 4-0 demolition of Estonia to extend Les Bleus unbeaten streak to 21 games.

The French have defeated England, Brazil and Germany since they were last beaten nearly two years ago and were comfortable victors over an under-strength English side at Wembley in November 2010.

However Hodgson is confident that when Monday's opening Group D clash kicks off at the Donbass Arena his injury-hit team will start as equals.

"We are facing a team in excellent form, 21 matches unbeaten at any level, let alone international level, is a fine achievement," Hodgson said.

"But when you come to European Championships or World Cups, having good or bad form isn't the factor that's decisive.

"It's how your team plays on the night, how people adjust to the circumstances - they'll be slightly different here in Donetsk - and it's about what you can do as a team.

"We have full respect for the French, but I have the sense that our players are confident in their own ability."

England, who face further games against Sweden and Ukraine, are hoping to banish the memory of their dismal 2010 World Cup campaign, when they arrived in South Africa among the pre-tournament favourites before departing in the second round after a series of abject performances.

Hodgson said he would not make any "bold statements" about his team's chances in Poland and Ukraine but only hoped his players fulfilled their potential.

"I hope they play like they're capable of playing. We have a team full of players who are major stars in their own teams, one of the top leagues in Europe," Hodgson said.

"I see them playing to the best of their ability at home. My hope is that they reproduce that form as a team in this tournament."

He laughed when questioned whether England, without a major tournament victory since the 1966 World Cup win on home soil and only two semi-final appearances since 1990, could be regarded as a serious football nation.

"We started professional football in the 1860s or 1870s. You can't accuse us of not being a very serious footballing nation," Hodgson said.

"We're all very much aware that we've not won anything since 1966, you didn't need to remind me of that.

"We have a chance, as one of the 16 teams here, to show how good a team we are. I can assure you we'll be doing our best to prove it on the field of play."


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