14th June 2012
Sweden and England are set to square off at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev in what will be extremely important match for both sides. The Swedes are in problems after losing to co-hosts Ukraine, while the Three Lions need to try and win this game in order to boost their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
Before the tournament started, Sweden were seen as one of the dark horses at the Euro 2012, mostly thanks to some pretty impressive showings during the qualifying campaign and a four-match winning run in international friendlies. Nevertheless, Erik Hamren’s side played well below their potential in their opening game against Ukraine and even though they took the lead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedes deservedly lost the match. The boss later criticized his players for their failure to step up the plate in such an important game and he had every reason to, seeing most of his players were well bellow par against Ukraine. With games against England and France next on agenda, the Swedes may feel as if they have missed an excellent opportunity to stake their claim for their place in the quarter-finals and being very low on confidence at the moment, I cannot see them showing a massive improvement against England. Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic fit after recovering from a thigh problem, I doubt the Swedes can get something from this game.
England’s preparations for the European Championship were riddled with problems, and it is fair to say the Three Lions were in pessimistic mood before the opening game against France. However, even with Lampard, Barry, Cahill and Rooney missing, Roy Hodgson’s side managed to play a decent game and earned a valuable point against very good French side. England opted for a cautious approach and waited for their chance on the break, and such tactics produced very good results. There are those who doubt the Three Lions will be as good now that they need to attack Sweden in search for a win, but I am pretty sure they will have no problems making the transition. While boss Hodgson admitted he was thinking about resting either Steven Gerrard or Scott Parker, it is highly unlikely he will do so, mostly because he doesn’t have a decent cover in the centre of the park. Danny Welbeck is set to keep his place in the side following a promising showing against France, but Theo Walcott could come in for James Milner.
England have shown a lot of character and defensive stability in all three games under Roy Hodgson and now is the time to prove they can score goals without Wayne Rooney. Sweden were pretty disappointing in their opening game and I am not convinced they have what it takes to stop the Three Lions from winning in Kiev.
Verdict: Away win England (2)
Best Odds: 6/5