Euro 2016 betting: Kane the main man for gung-ho England against Russia

 
Ben Cleminson
England v Turkey - International Friendly
Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy scored just shy of 50 goals between them last season (Source: Getty)

England's bid to end 50 years of hurt begins when they kick off their Euro 2016 campaign against Russia in Marseille on Saturday.

There have been a few near misses – and many more not so near – as the Three Lions have hunted their first major international trophy since 1966, but with a young, talented squad, there’s a quiet optimism for the summer ahead.

Roy Hodgson has overseen a rebuild since the timid group-stage departure in the 2014 World Cup, and England boast the youngest squad in France.

Their first assignment is Russia at the revamped Stade Velodrome tomorrow evening.

The Russians struggled through qualifying, with former England boss Fabio Capello getting the boot midway through the campaign.

However they have rallied since the appointment of Leonid Slutsky, who added a greater deal of freedom to Russia’s play.

The 2018 World Cup hosts won all four qualifiers under Slutsky, scoring 12 and only conceding once, and he’s given confidence to a side who looked bereft under Capello.

Preparations have been less than ideal for the Russians though.

Injuries to key men Denis Glushagov, Igor Denisov and Dmitri Torbinski have surely shaken-up Slutsky’s plans.

The news must come as a pleasant surprise to England fans, considering it is usually them worrying about the fitness of key players on the eve of a tournament.

Added to that, since sealing qualification in October, they’ve only won twice from six friendlies.

England, on the other hand, have beaten Germany, France and Portugal in a run of five wins out of six.

The Three Lions are 10/11 to beat Russia tomorrow, which I will be backing.

England’s strikeforce can worry any in Europe, with Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane reminiscent of Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham at Euro 96.

The pair scored just shy of 50 Premier League goals between them last season and will have Russia’s centre-back pairing of Sergey Ignashevich (36 years old) and Vasili Berezutski (33) running scared.

Kane especially has shown that he is one of the best strikers around, with 64 goals in the past two seasons for club and country, and he is ready to make a significant impact in his first major tournament.

I like the look of Betway’s 4/1 for the Spurs man to open the scoring tomorrow.

For all of England’s attacking strength, question marks remain at the back.

The clean sheet against 10-man Portugal last week was the first Hodgson’s men have managed to keep in 2016, and Joe Hart will have his work cut out behind a sometimes erratic defence.

Hodgson appears to be employing a "score one more than the opposition" mentality – a far cry from the meek displays in Poland and Ukraine in his first tournament as boss.

With that in mind, I can see it being an open, high-scoring affair in Marseille.

Spread bettors are advised to buy total goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index.

Pointers

England 10/11 (Betway)

Harry Kane to score first 4/1 (Betway)

Buy total goals 2.4 (Sporting Index)

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