England’s 10th and final game of 2015 saw them beat France 2-0 and brought the seventh win of the year for the men’s team.
The game was meant to be a friendly, in aid of Breast Cancer Research. After Friday night’s shootings in Paris the game took on whole new meaning. The arc over Wembley Stadium wa slit up in tricolor colours and fans were unusually friendly towards each other. Even with friendlies, English football fans can be quite hostile towards the opposing team, hence why fans of both camps are separated. However, this did not seem to matter that night. While fans were still separated, there was no hostile reactions of England fans towards the cheering on of France. On the contrary, it felt like both teams had the support of the entire stadium, which was a beautiful atmosphere to watch football in.
Security seemed a little tighter, however personally it did not feel like there was an immense increase in security measures. More on this later, as it turns out, I was wrong.
The ceremonies in the Stadium started with a symbolic laying down of flowers by David Cameron and Prince William to honour the victims of the Paris attacks. followed by a minute’s silence. In the days leading up to the game, newspapers had urged England fans to sing along to the Marseillaise. Wembley Stadium displayed the lyrics on both screens and it felt like the entire Wembley Stadium stood with France that night.It was a collective F*ck You to terrorism.
The starting line-up was the youngest under current England boss Roy Hodgson, with an average ago of 24 years. Dele Alli, Tottenham midfielder, scored the first goal in his full England debut with after a tackle with Schneiderlin in the middle and a little help from Rooney who passed the ball back to Alli. The goal, shot from 25 yards away, dips into the top left.
The first half is filled with great attempts from both teams and even though it’s a friendly, both teams were going for it. The French fans, although much smaller in numbers, seem to simply overpower the English fans in volume and spirit. It is a friendly atmosphere at Wembley Stadium, among players and fans alike.
The second half gets underway with two substitutions for France and a goalie swap for England. Just two minutes into the second half, Alli wins another big tackle against Pogba, and with assistance by Sterling, Rooney hammers a classic volley right into the bottom right of France’s goal.
England hold their defence well for the rest of the game and it seems France run out of tactics once they get into the final third. There are a few goal shots but all saved by Butland. Dele Alli is voted man of the match, and rightly so. He’s shown great potential and skill in his senior England debut.
It was great match with England scoring two beautiful goals and France giving it their best, understandably missing a little spark of energy. Goal attempts remain rather low with 8 in total on either side and ball possession mostly on England’s side. It is always quite special to root for the home team at Wembley Stadium, especially when it is against teams like France.
Overall it was a fairly slow game and it was obvious, for more than understandable reasons, that France’s head was elsewhere. The French fans however were loud and proud and strong, and it was heartwarming.
After the match, we spoke to a few police men, who were taking pictures with the French fans. According to them this was the safest game in UK history, there were 2000 police officers and over 100 armed officers. When we walked into the stadium, it did not feel like this at all. However, after the game, once the masses had disappeared the amount of security became visible. The ramp leading up to Wembley Stadium was fenced in by police officers in yellow vests standing one on one. It certainly felt weird going to a football game of this calibre just days after such a terrible attack.