France midfielder Yohan Cabaye has revealed that England captain Steven Gerrard is the player France fear the most ahead of the two team’s opening Euro 2012 match on Monday in Donetsk.
Cabaye enjoyed a spectacular first season with new club Newcastle last time round, helping the Magpies secure 5th place in the Premier League.
The former Lille man earned a call up for France’s Euro 2012 squad thanks to his fine form and is now looking forward to taking on England in Group D – but says Les Blues will be particularly mindful of England’s skipper.
"Who do we fear most? Steven Gerrard is a very important player," said Cabaye. "He is very powerful and an inspirational player, a leader."
Cabaye also revealed France intend on targeting the Liverpool midfielder in an attempt to limit his impact on the fixture.
"He is the soul of this team, the captain, and will be like a king in this game," he explained. "He can be very aggressive going forward but defensively he is also important. It is important to try and nullify him."
France are still waiting on the fitness of influential midfielder Yann M’Vila ahead of their showdown with England, with the Rennes man struggling with an ankle knock picked up during his country’s warm up fixture against Serbia.
For England, Wayne Rooney is suspended, meaning either Liverpool’s Andy Carroll or Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck will lead the line, with Ashley Young expected to provide support for either man through the middle.