Ukraine will be no pushover for England in the final crucial Group D match. You would be excused for thinking England had already done enough after their scrambled last-ditch victory against a poor Sweden side but the Ukraine encounter is very losable. Read on for our preview and betting tips on this vital Euro 2012 game (to be played Tuesday, June 19, 7.45pm. TV: ITV1).
The £30million man Andriy Shevchenko’s stay in the UK was not a happy one, but when you catch the former Chelsea man on a going day he can still slot in the goals. In fact his form has picked up of late at club level for Dynamo Kiev and he was a handful for the Swedes. England proved in their 3-2 defeat of Sweden that they can be most obliging to the right opponent. To leak a couple to a moderate side shows the defence is far from robust, so Shevchenko will be dangerous.
Sheva’s national manager gave the star only an evens chance of playing in this crucial game after incurring an injury to his left knee. This is the latest updated information on the day of the match: it has improved but still leaves him in doubt. If he fails to play it will be a huge boost to England’s chances.
After beating Sweden 2-1, Ukraine let themselves down against France when beaten 2-0. It is worth noting that Sweden put just one goal past Ukraine while they breached England with a brace. That bare single fact gives Ukraine might claims to win this final Group game.
England only require a single point to progress to the quarter finals while Ukraine must win or they are gone. The defeat to Les Bleus will have heightened Ukraine’s sense of fallibility. It was the hangover after the party against Sweden. They will go about their business with purpose and they are the home team with the supporters. It may be a cliché but that really is worth an extra player (and there is another classic footballing cliché to follow, see if you spot it, if you don’t then you should probably see a pathologist).
Those are the negatives for England, but what of the positives. Well they surprised our reviewers by scoring three goals in, crucially, open play against the Swedes. The captain Gerrard justified his cramped seat on the plane with that one amazing assist alone, onto the sweaty, pony-tailed head of Andy Carroll. That goal was pure class, a rare accolade for an England move.
Theo Walcott showed what a talent he is when coming on as a super-sub, or the new favoured phrase for it seems to be ‘impact player.’ Walcott has been confirmed as available for this game after an injury scare and he may even be on the pitch from the start. Danny Welbeck’s inspirational spider-like back heel into the net from a cross was incredible. That final winning goal never quite received the accolades it deserved for the fleet-footedness and momentous skill of its creator.
Top online bookie Betfred is betting like this:
1/1 England, 12/5 Draw, 3/1 Ukraine.
All these were mighty positives, but mainly for the future rather than the present of the national team. The void from the departure of the old guard in Lampard, Rooney and the like has been filled with better players. But has anyone really noticed that fact?
Rooney is now available for this game and Roy Hodgson is likely to be strung up in Trafalgar Square if he loses this match while failing to include Rooney in the starting line-up. The fear is that the attacking shape, which proved itself potent against similarly challenged opponents in the last match might just have its dynamic changed by making way for the admirable Rooney. Much as we respect his talents, his inclusion could put the equilibrium slightly off kilter. The Man Utd and Street Striker star has sat and watched his position ably filled by equally adept deputies. Maybe that is the inspiration he needs to find some of his better form.
So England has looked dangerous in attack but vulnerable at the back. This encounter is do-or-die for Ukraine, who simply must win to avoid failure. I don’t need to speak Ukrainian to know what their newspapers and blogs are writing – it is the most important football match in the country’s history.
England stands in the way. Ukraine are the home team with home influence. It could prove critical with referee decisions, passion and determination. Ukraine’s strength is also their ultimate weakness – a reliance on the enigma that is Andriy Shevchenko. If the real Shevchenko stands up then England (who were as long as 10/1 against in the betting odds to beat lowly Sweden at one point in play) will have their hands full. Those who watch their games down the King’s Road know that the Ukrainian national hero can go AWOL for months on end. It is just unlikely to happen in a match of this magnitude.
You can draw your own conclusions from here, and we would like to hear them below, but this preview will end with a betting tip and this is one that I will be following up with my own hard-earned cash. The conclusion is for a hard-fought win by the team that needs a win the most, namely Ukraine. They can send England and the honourable Roy Hodgson back home typically, and here it comes, sick as parrots with a nation believing, and here is another one, ‘we was robbed’.
Expect the score line to be 2-1 or 3-2 to the host nation. England is too short a price at 11/10 for victory, so bet on Ukraine at around 3/1 to win. Before you strike that wager make sure Shevchenko is in the line-up and ensure you get the best price by comparing the latest odds on this England v Ukraine Euro 2016 match.