Obviously a win tonight for England is key, be great to start off with a victory, which we often struggle to do in major tournaments, but despite appearing the favourites don't be fooled by Russia, they have a very physical strong team who will be looking to cause upset, as of course it's their first game too and they'll want to win just as much as we do, so how can we beat them?
1. Midfield battle
For me, this game will be won or lost in midfield. with a compact physical side like Russia, England are going to have too quite early on become composed on the ball in midfield, and get passing the ball around, getting used to the occasion as for some players the experience will be rather overwhelming. They should aim from the outset to be aggressive but fair in challenges, battling for everything and competing for every ball to cause nuisance and frustrate the Russian players. If they can do this and calm into the occasion and pass the ball around freely it will give them a great advantage over their opponents.
England should aim to keep possession but more importantly aim to keep it in the right areas, England often hold the ball in defence whilst planning to attack, then a holding midfield will drop back to take the ball from the defenders, this gives opposition a good chance to get composed and into shape to defend an attack, if a defender advances however causing the midfield to move and create space this would cause more of a threat, and would be harder to mark, but also could leave the defence exposed. England should aim to keep possession in the Russian half , easier said than done, and I'm sure if they can they will, but none the less this will show a more attacking stance which fans will want to see.
2. play without fear
Many players for England play very safe football, which can work incredibly well in Friendlies, playing the ball out wide for it to be crossed does work, but it won't break down stronger teams, sometimes it takes risky fearless attempts on goal to beat the top goalkeepers, and it's a way of getting past top defenders, and makes things incredibly exciting for the fans.
3. Take note of Arsenal
It is not often I'd say this, as many international opponents are difficult, but in my opinion to beat Russia we need to take note of Arsenal and there quick fire passing in and around the box. We shouldn't follow it to a tee as Arsenal should probably take more risks by shooting, and England should definitely take shooting oppurtunities when they are presented too them, but the Russian defence is rather slow, and making the ball move quickly around them is going to lead to lack of concentration and chances will arise. Especially with the pace of Jamie Vardy. If he plays I feel jack Wilshere is the best player for this, if he was in behind the strikers he is more than capable of producing incredible build up play, but I doubt he will be put in that position as Roy prefers him a bit deeper.
I feel if we play a strong game in the midfield our attackers will help us out and England will be able to win the game, but we shouldn't underestimate Russia, they will certainly be tough opponents looking to exploit our weaknesses to get the win they desperately want as well, here's to a good game.