Euro 2012 Group D preview
Euro 2012 Group D preview
Co-hosts Ukraine will be hoping to cause an upset in Group D, in what if qualification for the tournament is to be believed, looks a tough group to call. Roy Hodgson will take charge of England for Euro 2012 with expectations surprisingly low.
The Ukraine have turned to their national icon, Andriy Shevchenko, who has returned from injury just in time to lead the line for Oleh Blokhin’s side. With 46 goals in 105 games for his country Shevchenko is Ukraine’s leading goal-scorer and their most experienced player. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk of Bayern Munich has some continental experience, but the rest of the squad lacks star quality. Two uncapped goalkeepers make up the provisional squad and with first-choice keeper Oleksandr Rybka banned for a doping offence; Ukraine may struggle to find a reliable stopper.
Sweden will be led by the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovich at Euro 2012 and may well upset the two group favourites France or England. They qualified as the best placed group runner-up, in the same group as the Netherlands, and scored an impressive 31 goals. Sweden have some good young talent coming through their ranks: John Guidetti who so impressed at Feyenoord on loan from Man City, is unfortunately ruled out through injury, but a Swedish midfield of Kallstrom, Larsson and Rasmus Elm will be a handful for any team.
After the debacle of South Africa 2010 France finally ditched Raymond Domeneche and brought in World Cup winner Laurent Blanc. The former Bordeaux manager has quietly been transforming the les blues style of play and they passed England off the Wembley pitch in the last meeting between the teams. Blanc has only announced his overseas shortlist of players, which includes Newcastle duo Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohann Cabaye, with Patrice Evra earning a reprieve after his role in the 2010 chaos. Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami look to have established themselves as the first choice centre-back pairing and if the players can keep their notorious egos in check the France could be a dark horse this summer.
On the talk of egos, the last team to compete Group D will be England under Roy Hodgson. Having overcome an initial wave of indifference and hostility to his appointment, Hodgson now has to patch up an England squad fragmented by racial allegation, suspension and injuries. Jack Wilshire is definitely out and if Scott Parker is ruled out then you suspect that England may seriously struggle to get out of the group. Wayne Rooney is suspended and his immediate replacement, Darren Bent, is still recovering from injury. Carroll, Welbeck and Defoe will be tasked with getting the goals in the first two games, while there may be a great deal of expectation on Oxlade-Chamberlain, who makes the 23 man squad at just 18. England enter the tournament with low expectations, but even that may see Hodgson quickly painted as the villain.