Euro 2016: 5 talking points as England face Russia at Stade Velodrome


England get their Euro 2016 campaign under way against Russia on Saturday evening in Marseille.

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Ahead of the Group B encounter at the Stade Velodrome, we pick out five of the main talking points.

1. Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane to split up?


England boast attacking options as varied as they are impressive, but effectively shoehorning them into the same starting line-up is tough.

The recent ill-fated attempt to have Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy split as Wayne Rooney emerges from deep raised serious concerns of whether the trio can play together.

Reports suggest Vardy could be the fall guy against Russia if Kane leads the line, with Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling providing width.

2. How and where will Wayne Rooney be used?

Wayne Rooney.

Being England's all-time top scorer, captain and most experienced player does not save you from scrutiny - in fact, it only increases it.

Rooney's presence in the starting line-up against Portugal seemed to disarm the Three Lions' exciting attack and how best to utilise the striker remains a key issue.

No longer the lung-busting striker that burst on to the scene and looking to a future in midfield, he has the chance to hush many of his doubters at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday evening.

3. How will England's defence stack up?

Chris Smalling

A decade on from having Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Jamie Carragher as central defensive options, Roy Hodgson plumped for three out-and-out centre-backs in France.

The England manager may point to his bold, attacking selection, but the decision is also borne out of the fact there is no longer strength in depth in that position.

There is no top-class natural left-sided centre-back in the squad, while individual mistakes against Turkey and Australia highlighted concerns over the ability of the trio selected.

4. What kind of threat will Russia pose?

Artem Dzyuba

Leonid Slutsky's side approach Euro 2016 more in hope than expectation, with this a chance to build for the home World Cup two years from now.

Considered the 29th best side in the world, Russia are the lowest ranked side in Group B and head into the opening match without a number of key players.

Alan Dzagoev, Denis Cheryshev and Igor Denisov all miss the tournament through injury, although the towering Artem Dzyuba and recently-naturalised Roman Neustadter are impressive options for a side with an ageing, if cohesive, backline.

5. Will things go off without a hitch?


England supporters were involved in running battles with French police in the centre of Marseille at the 1998 World Cup.

Things got off to a worrying start on Thursday evening after police used tear gas to disperse an apparent clash with locals. Two English fans were arrested and a supporter suffered a head injury in the brawl after being hit across the face with a wooden chair.

It was a troubling incident that hopefully will not prove the precursor to more issues.