England will be largely happy with their draw for Euro 2012 and although they should make the quarter finals, winning Group D may be a little too much to ask with France being the chief opposition.
Fabio Capello will be delighted to have avoided the big guns of the draw, especially from pot A where co-hosts Ukraine were pulled out instead of defending champions Spain and beaten World Cup finalists Holland.
The final team in Group D is Sweden and as a result of the beneficial draw England have been trimmed slightly from 12/1 to 10/1 in the Euro 2012 odds to win a first major tournament since the 1966 World Cup.
However, their chances of lifting the trophy are likely to be severely diminished if they do not top their group because a tougher quarter final will lie in wait, most probably against Spain.
Therefore, the big game of the group could be England’s first, where they face a France team that have been on a bit of a roll of late under Laurent Blanc.
Since the troubles that saw them fail to make it out of the group stages of the last World Cup, France have made big strides under Blanc, who has followed a similar philosophy to Capello in that the time was right to give youth a chance.
The bulk of Blanc’s squads have predominantly been in their lower 20s and the reward has been a run of 17 games without defeat.
Throw in that England have lost their last three games to France and won none of the five meetings since 1997 and it is clear the challenge that awaits Capello.
Meanwhile, even with an easier group England made hard work of qualification at the World Cup and they will have no Wayne Rooney to help unlock the French defence or any other rearguard in Group D.
So although England can be expected to take enough points off Ukraine and Sweden to progress, a defeat looks plausible against France.
England’s odds are 11/8 to win Group D and France certainly look the better bet in this market at 6/4.