Kick Off: Thursday 26th July
Live on BBC1 8.00pm
Summer 2012 promised so much for Great Britain as England topped their Euro Championships group and Scotland’s Andy Murray marched onto his first Wimbledon final, but just as quickly as hopes were raised, they were soon dashed as England crashed out on penalties (again) and Murray was swept aside by a magnificent Roger Federer.
However, this week some national pride has been restored as Bradley Wiggins made history as the first Brit to win Cycling’s greatest prize as he became Tour De France champion. Can Stuart Pearce’s Britons keep the good times rolling just as Summer begins to hot up?
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Their first test arrives in the shape of a Senegalese team chomping at the bit to restore some pride of their own.
Six months ago, their full National side were tipped to make the headlines at the African Cup of Nations in what many thought was a 2-horse race between Demba Ba’s Senegal and Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast. Just 3 games, no wins and no points later and Ba and co were packing their bags and saying farewell to a tournament they should have given so much more to.
Consequently, the opening game at Old Trafford could be quite an encounter on Thursday evening. The Lions of Teranga are 9/2 long-shots to upset the Lions of Great Britain, who are firm favourites at 8/13 with Paddy Power with 13/5 available that the Lions’ share the spoils for a draw.
Despite the GB team being taught a footballing lesson by the awesome Brazilians on Friday, I think 3 points will be the order of the day for Psycho and his boys, as they seek to put pressure on the group favourites Uruguay with a win, so the 8/13 would be my most confident betting tip.
Pearce was clear that the result against Brazil was not important, as it was more about gaining valuable match fitness and helping the team gel. One shining beacon of light to come from the friendly was undoubtedly the performance from Jack Butland in the England goal. He only came on for the second half but made 6 or 7 outstanding saves, keeping out a rampant Brazil for the duration of his team in the sticks.
Butland will start against the Senegalese and his fine form coupled with a lack of attacking pedigree in the Senegal squad makes a GB win that bit more appealing, and the 6/4 for them to win to nil is not to be sniffed at, as a better value alternative than the win market.
Personally, I believe that the team will come good this summer, and I can see Team GB kicking off with a comfortable 2-0 win in this, the battle of the Lions.