Euro 2012 may get underway today with co-host Poland taking on Greece followed by Russia facing the Czech Republic, but you will have to wait through the weekend to get to the epic showdown between England and France on Monday.
Both countries come into this summer’s contest as outside favorites to win it all. England is battling the typical demons of scandal and tabloid press. They also have to deal with massive injury crisis, suspensions and deaths in family which will see them without five of their players in the contest.
France is as fit as ever, but still trying to exorcise the demons that infected them in 2010 in South Africa. But riding a 20-game unbeaten streak into Ukraine has certainly helped distance them from the past.
It is one of those matchups that is bound to be full of energy and anticipation as these nations sport their proud footballing heritage and attempt to better each other not only for three points, but bragging rights in a rivalry steeped in political and cultural differences from centuries ago.
Here are some of the key matchups to keep an eye out for as the game unfolds.