So, here we are, England taking part in another major tournament and the optimism building ahead of a massive summer in France, how long until the little England flags attached to car windows come out?
If we were judging purely from FIFA World Rankings (England 10th and Russia 27th) then England would be considered strong favourites for this game, however, Russia are a tricky, experienced outfit that will be looking to outwit England's young side.
England will attack with pace and have a brilliant work rate with players like Alli, Vardy and Dier running their hearts out for the English cause. There is a lot to be excited about with this team at the moment but can the younger players cope with the pressure better than 'the golden generation' did.
Russia have an 'experienced' squad, I say that instead of what I wanted to say which is 'old'. They have 4 defenders in their squad over the age of 32 and also two defenders aged 29. Experience is brilliant but can they cope with the pace of this young England side? Players like Vardy and Welbeck could wreak havoc on this Russian defence.
Artem Dyzuba is a striker that scored 8 goals for the Russians in qualifying and will be a threat to the English defence throughout.
England managed to win every single game in qualifying scoring 31 goals and conceding only 3 so they managed to tick every box very efficiently, whereas Russia managed to snatch second place from Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden in the final few weeks of the qualifying phase and that was with the help of a forfeited match by Montenegro giving them 3 points which really helped their cause.
Russia do have the constant threat of Artem Dzyuba in attack and England's defence will need to deal with his threat but we have confidence that Smalling and either Stones or Cahill will be able to contain him. Compare that to Russia having to potentially contain a combination of Rooney, Kane, Welbeck, Vardy, Sturridge and Dele Alli and it just seems a bit too one sided. Also Russia's older defenders concern me, Vardy and co. could have an absolute field day here.
England over the last few years have scored most of their goals in the second half of matches, so people will not be expecting a first half England goal (or a Russian one for that matter) however, with the pace on show and Russia being quite slow out of the blocks, we can see England bagging an early goal, so it's definitely worth a punt.
Like we said earlier, we think England will score quite early on, however Russia will step their game up in the second half and we back them to bag at least one goal. England should win this game and should score a couple but they are also quite likely to concede to this Russian team.
If England do score an early goal then it will most likely be unanswered, therefore that's why we have gone for England at half-time. The stats suggest that England score most of their goals in the second half so if that record continues they will also be winning at full-time, we actually think Russia will score in the second half but England will score again and come through.
This is such a difficult choice between which England player we feel it will be the first goalscorer because Roy Hodgson has been tinkering with the starting line-up a lot recently so it could be any combination of exciting goal scoring players. We settled on Harry Kane as he seems to have been favoured more than Jamie Vardy and with his 22 goals so far in the Premier League this season, he's bang in form and should cause this Russia team all kinds of problems.
Jamie Vardy scored 2 in his last 2 England games and both were quality goals, if he starts he has to be a massive favourite to score a goal but we've put last goalscorer as we think he will come on as a sub later in the game and if the Russia defenders look slow at the beginning of the game, his work rate and pace will cause them absolute hell.