Madrid: Spain star Andres Iniesta believes a Wayne Rooney-less England side will ‘suffer’ against France on Monday night.
Rooney is currently suspended for two games meaning that he will miss England`s Group D opener against France as well as the clash with Sweden.
England have also lost some key players through injury in the build-up to Euro 2012 with defender Gary Cahill and the midfield duo of Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard all ruled out through injury.
However, Manchester City and England defender Joleon Lescott escaped injury after a nasty head injury left him bleeding in Saturday`s 1-0 friendly win over Belgium.
France, on the other hand, will be raring to go with Laurent Blanc`s boys hitting four goals past Estonia in a 4-0 win in their final warm-up game on Tuesday night.
‘I have watched France on television several times and I think they are going to make England suffer,’ Iniesta said in The Sun.
He added: ‘A few months ago I had my doubts. But now I believe France are better than England.
‘England have changed their coach and system. They`ve also suffered some important blows off the pitch and that`s a pity, as this is such a key game for them.
‘Wayne Rooney will be missed for both his goals and his workrate.
‘In normal circumstances, England and France would pass through to the quarter-finals. But the first match can change the course of the group.’
England have underachieved in major tournaments in recent years including a quarter-final humbling to Germany in the 2010 World Cup.
As a result, expectations in England are low but their manager Roy Hodgson thinks this could actually be a positive thing.
When asked whether low expectations helped or hindered the squad, Hodgson told BBC TV`s Football Focus: ‘It`s only a good thing.
‘Football players are under enormous pressure.
‘We, as coaches, put them under enormous pressure - we want a lot from them - because we can only succeed when they succeed.
‘The nation puts them under pressure.’
Meanwhile, Spain midfielder Iniesta believes the French have improved under Blanc and he highlighted ‘the connection’ between Yohan Cabaye, Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema as something England need to be wary off during Monday’s clash.
BDST: 1907 HRS, June 08, 2012
Edited by: Manoz Halder, Newsroom Editor
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