A young England side — at two months short of age 26, on average, the youngest in the tournament — kicks off the UEFA 2016 European Championship Saturday when the Three Lions face Russia in a match that England hopes could be the start of a historic run in a tournament that they have never won since joining the competition in 1964.
In fact, England have never even played in a Final at the Euros. But a new-look team led by Premier League Champion Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy along with Harry Kane and Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur — who finished third after a spirited title challenge in the recently completed 2015-2016 season — hopes to reverse the fortunes of their 14 predecessors, and expectations are running high coming off an inspirational run-up to the Euro tournament over the past two years.
Winners of five out of their last six international matches, and a historic qualifying round in which England won all 10 matches — only the sixth team ever to go without a loss or draw in the qualifying round — has optimism among England fans running at its highest level in years.
Since the 2014 World Cup, England have lost only twice in 21 international games.
One of the few veteran players in the squad, Captain Wayne Rooney, of Manchester United, is reportedly determined to make up for a series of disappointing outings under the international spotlight as well.
“I’ve noticed in training Wayne is determined to make an impact in this tournament,” Rooney’s England and Manchester United teammate Chris Smalling said this week.
“You can see in training every day that he, along with everyone else, is itching to perform as you need to do in a game. These are the times where you earn your shirt,” Smalling added.
Watch a preview of the England vs. Russia UEFA 2016 Euro opening match in the video below.
To watch a live stream of the England vs. Russia UEFA 2016 Euro opener for both teams — who compete in Group B along with Wales and Slovakia — see the streaming links at the bottom of this article. Kickoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. at the 67,000-seat Stade Velodrome in Marseilles, France, on Saturday, June 11.
For fans in the U.K., that’s 8 p.m. British Summer Time. Viewers in the United States can log into the live stream of the match at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, noon Pacific.
An England fan has been assaulted by Russia fans and thrown into a harbour. pic.twitter.com/9G9ZXeJNXw
— The Away Fans (@theawayfans) June 10, 2016
Sadly, fan violence in Marseilles as well as fears of a terrorist attack similar to the attack that occurred in Paris last November 13, in which an international France vs. Germany match was among the targets, has kept ticket sales low. As a result, England and Russia may find themselves playing in front of an unusual number of empty seats for such a high-profile game.
England is considered the heavy favorite against Russia — but the Russians don’t agree. According to Russia striker Artem Dzyuba, his team was pleased to find themselves drawn into a group with England, the team he calls the most beatable of all the top seeded teams in the 2016 Euros.
Russia were delighted to draw England – they are the weakest top seed at Euro 2016, says Artem Dzyuba https://t.co/bnSXUdCR9k
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) June 10, 2016
“We knew that we had to draw a top seed – and no top seed is ever going to be an easy game, but it was England that we were hoping for,” Dzyuba said. “They are still a very good team and we are expecting a tough game, but if you look at the other top seeds it could have been a lot worse for us.”
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To watch the England vs. Russia 2016 UEFA Euro opener live stream, use the stream provided by WatchESPN at this link, or download the WatchESPN app to watch the game on mobile devices. Fans who do not have credentials to log in to WatchESPN can watch the match via the Sling TV internet TV package at this link. The package, which includes a variety of channels, including ESPN2, which carried the international friendly, costs $20 per month. But Sling TV offers a seven-day free trial, so subscribers can choose whether or not to keep the service after watching the England vs. Russia match stream live online. A Spanish-language live stream of the game, “Inglaterra vs. Rusia,” is also available via WatchESPN at this link.
Fans in the United Kingdom who want to watch a live stream of the England vs. Russia 2016 UEFA Euro opener for the Three Lions can view the match using ITV Hub at this link or use the ITV Hub app which is available on Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, and several other smart TV sets and devices in Great Britain.
[Featured Photo By Michael Sohn / Associated Press]