England to Face France at Euros

England has been drawn against France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine in Group D at next summer’s European Championship.

Republic of Ireland face a far tougher task in Group C with matches against world and European champions Spain, Italy and Croatia.  In Group A, co-hosts Poland play Greece in the opening game, and also face Russia and the Czech Republic.  Meanwhile in Group B, World Cup runners-up Netherlands take on Denmark, Germany and Portugal.

The Euro 2012 tournament will begin on 8 June in Warsaw (Poland), with the final being played on 1 July in Kiev (Ukraine).

England manager Fabio Capello said he was pleased to have avoided some of the bigger names in the tournament as England return to Europe’s top table for the first time in eight years, having failed to qualify for Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria.

However, being picked in Group D means they play their opening three games in Ukraine.  Having selected Krakow in Poland as their training base, England will face journeys of 930 miles to Donetsk to play France and Ukraine, and 540 miles to Kiev where they take on Sweden.

When asked if he would consider changing the destination of their camp, Capello said, “Absolutely not.  We have found a really good place.  I am happy with the facilities and we will stay in the same place in Krakow.”

The Italian, who confirmed this week that he would leave his post after the tournament, added: “Group B is very difficult because Portugal, Germany and Holland is really tough.

“The best group was Group A, but we are happy with Group D.  It’s a tough group but it’s better than Group B.  More difficult will be the first game against France, because of the pressure and the importance of the result.”

England will open against France, who they have not beaten in five meetings, in Donetsk on 11 June.  The fixture is a repeat of England’s first game at Euro 2004, when they lost 2-1 in Lisbon.  They then play Sweden, who they recently beat at Wembley, in Kiev on 15 June, and end against Ukraine back in Donetsk on 19 June.

Capello’s preparations for the tournament will be helped by the announcement that England will face Netherlands on 29 February, in a re-arranged friendly game at Wembley.

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