18th June 2012
England and Ukraine will be vying for one place in the quarter-finals when the two sides meet at Donbas Arena in Donetsk seeing that France are almost certain to go through after taking four points from first two games. The Three Lions are in a better position as they only need one point to qualify, but Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine are certainly not without chances.
England are well known for their ability to defy the odds when it comes to major tournaments, which usually proves a disappointing feature seeing the Three Lions tend to arrive to tournament finals as one of the favourites for the trophy. They have done it again at the Euro 2012, but this time their showings were on a more positive note, after everybody ruled them out of contention for the coveted title. Roy Hodgson’s side were forced to deal with numerous unexpected problems during their Euro 2012 preparations, but, nonetheless, managed to rise from the ashes and produced two solid performances to win four points from first two group games. England showed a lot of character and determination by coming from a goal behind to beat Sweden following the opening draw against France, and thus took destiny into their own hands. All that’s left for Roy Hodgson’s side is to get at least one point from their final group game and they will go through. The return of Wayne Rooney and good form of Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck gives the Three Lions reason for optimism, but Theo Walcott’s hamstring injury is a cause for concern, especially as the Arsenal winger was the one who had a key role to play in the remarkable comeback against Sweden.
Euro 2012 co-hosts got off to a flying start as they came from a goal behind to beat Sweden in their opening game and the solid showing against the Swedes hinted Oleg Blokhin’s side would prove worthy opponents to both France and England in the race for top two places in the group. However, despite showing some quality against les Bleus, Ukraine were unable to get anything from their second group game, meaning they now need a victory over England in order to reach the next stage. That is easier said than done now that the Three Lions are finally living up to their potential, but Ukraine are prepared to give their best with the support of packed Donbas Arena. While young wingers Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka have more than justified all the hype surrounding them, all eyes will be on Andriy Shevchenko, who scored a brace against Sweden and seriously threatened France keeper Hugo Lloris on several occasions. The former AC Milan and Chelsea striker is doubtful with a knee injury, but there is every chance he will be in the starting line-up come Tuesday evening.
The big advantage for England is that even a draw takes them and the France game showed the Three Lions are real masters when it comes to result-oriented tactics. The return of Wayne Rooney is also a plus, and while Ukraine are likely to put up a decent fight, I seriously doubt they can come on top of this tie.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 23/10
Bookmaker: Paddy Power