Going into today's match, England has gone without a win in their previous five matches against France.  Roy Hodgson set to buck that trend by fielding a squad that included a mixture of young talent and veteran influence for his first competitive match as England manager.  Laurent Blanc opted for a lineup familiar to fans of the French national team, including veterans Patrice Evra, Philippe Mexes, and Florent Malouda.

The match began as a testy affair between the familiar opponents.  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had an impact in these early minutes, pressing the French defenders and constantly attempting to get forward for England.  The Ox's performance in the opening minutes mimicked the intentions of England early on, giving the French midfield little time in possession and forcing quick decisions from Ribery and Nasri.  There was plenty of back and forth play at both ends, the best opportunity coming when James Milner managed to round French captain Hugo Lloris.  Despite having a wide open opportunity at goal, Milner was unable to put a shot on target and the change went begging.


At the 30 minute mark, England were the first to strike off of a set piece.  Steven Gerrard's in-swinging free kick was met by the head of Joleon Lescott, and the Flying Klingon gave England the early lead.  Lescott took advantage of the French defensive breakdown and England had the start they desired.  Following the goal, England's midfield dropped deeper into defense and almost conceded off a set piece nearly identical to the one they had scored on.  Alou Diarra rose to meet Nasri's free kick, but Joe Hart was able to stop the driven header

It did not take long for France to respond, because less than ten minutes after England's breakthrough the game was drawn level again off of the foot of Samir Nasri.  After enjoying sustained possession in the England half, Franck Ribery slid a pass to Nasri who found himself with open space due to the dropping England midfield and fired a curling shot past Joe Hart.  The tenacity and pressing of the English midfield had lapsed following their goal and France took advantage.

England began to look nervous in possession in the minutes leading up to the halftime whistle and nearly conceded when Karim Benzema broke into the box.  The Real Madrid striker's effort was spoiled by the flailing feet of Joe Hart, and England was able to deal with the ensuing corner.  Going into halftime, France had enjoyed more chances and carried the momentum into the dressing room.


The physical play from France picked up in the second half, with several questionable tackles going ignored by the referee despite the pleas of the English players.  Sloppy play from Milner nearly gifted France a goal, but Joe Hart's timely intervention kept the game level.  Recent introductions to the England lineup Danny Welbeck and Glen Johnson looked competent throughout their participation in the match, and Welbeck linked up with Steven Gerrard nicely several times during the match.

Ashley Young and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were both booked for clumsy challenges, but the indiscretions by the French participants were largely ignored by referee Nicola Rizzoli.  France's chances started to add up as the second half went on, with them racking up 21 total shots to the chagrin of Roy Hodgson.  Mathieu Debuchy's contribution from the left back was significant and his relentless runs up and down the flank were Laurent Blanc's most consistent weapon.

England had an opportunity to snatch a victory shortly before stoppage time, but Steven Gerrard's effort ran just wide of Lloris' goal.  France responded with the only opportunity of the stoppage period. Karim Benzema forced a save from Joe Hart and the game finished level after a rather pedestrian second half.  Both sets of supporters can be satisfied with the result, despite neither being able to earn the full three points.    France are now without a win in their last eight major tournament matches, but the point against their toughest Group D opponent means both sides look to be good value to advance to the knockout stages thus far.