Group D – Can Ukraine make it 2 out of 2?
Posted on June 14, 2012 by Richard Petrie
Not many would have had Ukraine at the top of Group D after the first round of fixtures. In fact, not many would have had Andriy Shevchenko as the joint top goalscorer after the opening round of fixtures, but that indeed was the case. Now the co-hosts face a France side who were rather underwhelming in their first game and Roy Hodgson’s England play a Sweden team who fell to Sheva and co.
Ukraine vs France
France had more chances and more of the ball against England but were ultimately held 1-1 by the Three Lions. Karim Benzema was picked as the lone striker in that game but seemed to drift into a deeper role on more than one occasion. France’s performance resembled that of a Spanish side in that they appeared content to play the ball around the edge of the penalty area whilst hunting for the killer ball. Laurent Blanc’s side weren’t bad but they certainly weren’t outstanding and perhaps a few changes in personnel might provide an extra spark.
Things didn’t look too bright for Ukraine when Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the Swedes in front early in the second half. However Shevchenko rolled back the years with two fine headers to earn the hosts a well deserved 2-1 victory. Andriy Yarmolenko and and Yevhen Konoplyanka looked very lively in the wide positions and Andriy Voronin put in a performance that Liverpool fans never witnessed during his ill fated spell at Anfield.
On paper you’d pick a France win but Ukraine definitely pack a threat. The French centre back pairing of Rami and Mexes certainly didn’t look the most stable. Despite his advancing years Shevchenko could still cause them problems. France were dealing with a well-drilled England team who thwarted them impressively. Go for a France win @ 2.05 with Oddslife but I fancy Ukraine to grab a goal in this one.
England vs Sweden
It was a much different England performance than what fans are used to against France. They defended well and put in a very well drilled collective performance. The Three Lions held off the French threat with great success and must be entering their encounter with Sweden with confidence. Hodgson may stick with Young and Welbeck as the front two as their pace and link-up play could trouble an unsteady Swedish defence.
Johan Elmander missed a glorious chance late on against Ukraine to snatch a point, however, he blazed it over and as a result the Swedes fell to the co-hosts. Captain Ibrahimovic fluttered in and out of the game playing in a deeper role but took his goal well. He’ll need to be at his very best to trouble Terry and Lescott as his support acts Ola Toivonen and Markus Rosenberg failed to impress.
England haven’t got a particularly great record against the Swedes in major tournaments, but under Roy Hodgson they are well organised and look like a team as opposed to 11 individuals. They are 2.10 with Oddslife to win and that looks like very good value. I’m going for a 2-0 England win, which is @ 9.00 on the Euro Predictor!
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