|(Wayne Rooney is out of the stands & straight back into England's starting eleven)|
England's final group game is against co-hosts Ukraine at the Donbass Arena, Donetsk as both sides battle it out to reach the knockout stages. Ukraine must win the match to qualify at the expense of England whilst a draw will be good enough for Roy Hodgson's side to progress.
England have picked up four points with victory over Sweden & a draw with current group leaders France. For the first time in the tournament England have a full squad to pick from as Wayne Rooney returns from his two match suspension & Hodgson has confirmed Rooney will start the game so one of Danny Welbeck & Andy Carroll will miss out.
Winger Theo Walcott changed the game against Sweden with his goal & assist for Welbeck which meant a 1-2 deficit was turned into a 3-2 victory. He picked up a minor strain but has been declared fit so leaves Hodgson a choice of rewarding him a start (replacing either James Milner & Ashley Young) or again using him as an impact sub?
Ukraine have a concern over veteran striker Andrei Shevchenko who is rated 50:50 but we would be very surprised if he misses out on what has been described as 'the biggest game in the country's history' by fellow forward Andrei Voronin. Shevchenko is Ukraine's biggest treat & did cause problems to French centre back duo Phillippe Mexes & Adil Rami but apart from a few glimpses from winger Andriy Yarmolenko there attacking quality isn't great. But they will be looking to put pressure on England with set plays as England struggled & conceded two goals vs Sweden via this route.
This should be another tight affair with a raucous crowd behind the co-hosts Ukraine creating an electric atmosphere. But England with the returning Rooney should be too strong for Ukraine & three points will mean a quarter final berth at the best price of 5/4.
|(Striker Karim Benzema will look to open his tournament account against eliminated Sweden)|
7:45 pm - Sweden vs France
The other game in Group D sees current leaders France play Sweden at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev. Les Blues look certain to qualify as only an England defeat, combined with them losing by a bigger margin can put them out whilst Sweden have already been eliminated with their defeat the other night.
France have a concern over midfielder Yohan Cabaye who has a slight knock but in Yann M'Vila they have a readymade replacement so the balance of the team won't change if needed. Against Ukraine the attacking midfield trio of Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri & goalscorer Jeremy Menez were excellent & their constant changing of positions will cause the weak defensive unit of Sweden major headaches. Again their creativity will provide Karim Benzema with plenty of goalscoring opportunities so take advantage of the 6/4 available for him to score at anytime as with Ronaldo the other night it's only a matter of time before he finds the net.
Sweden will be going home after this match so coach Erik Hamren has indicated a number of fringe players may get their opportunities. One definite change is that either Markus Rosenburg or Ola Toivonen will replace Johan Elmader in attack & partner the outstanding Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic was hugely disappointed with the outcome in the England match & French midfielders M'Vila & Alou Diarra will need to pay close attention to him as his deeper role means he'll be playing in the space between him & the back four. As well as being vulnerable to set pieces themselves, Sweden, are a threat with good delivery from either Kim Kallstrom or Sebastian Larsson & Olof Mellberg will want to add another international goal to his collection before his likely retirement from the tournament arena. The suspicion is that the Swedes will prove a touch deflated now that they are eliminated, after turning around a goal deficit into a 2-1 lead only to then lose against England, if France can take a lead we see Sweden heads dropping & a good win could be on the cards & we'll have a small punt on a 3-0 France win at 14/1.
England to beat Ukraine at 5/4 (Paddy Power/Stan James)
France to beat Sweden 3-0 at 14/1 (various)
Karim Benzema to score at anytime vs Sweden at 6/4 (BlueSquare)