Venue: Kiev Date:11/6/2012 Kick-off time: 19:45 GMT
This group D encounter sees what could prove to be the best of the rest, although the Euros usually provide a few shocks. France will be hoping to avoid the disappointment of the World Cup 2 years ago; with this in mind both Sweden and Ukraine will be looking to capitalise on any mistake made especially as Ukraine are tournament hosts.
Sweden go into this one on the back of 4 straight wins. They recently recorded a 2-1 win over Serbia with goals from Oliver Toivenen and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ex Bolton man – Johan Elmander is carrying an injury and is a doubt for this game. The Swedes will be looking for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come up with the goals after scoring 28 goals in 32 appearances in Serie A for AC Milan. Alot of eyes will be on hot prospect Rasmus Elm who is being targeted by various top clubs in Europe; The AZ man has been in fine form this season and has the potential to carve open defences as well as hurt teams with his ability from dead ball situations.
Co-hosts Ukraine have been unable to record a win in 2 games after defeats against Austria and Turkey. Oleh Blohkin has since been reinstated as Ukraine boss after a previous spell and is likely to hand Tymoschuk the captains armband with Shevchenko sitting out on the bench. Former Barcelona man Chrygrynskyi is ruled out through injury - a big loss for the Ukrainians. Andriy Yarmolenko is one to watch providing a threat from the wing as well as Gusev who have both been Ukraine's top scorer as of late with 5.
This match will no doubt be a tight affair with Ukraine’s home advantage being a major factor. With England and France in the earlier game realistically anything less than 3 points for either side is likely to leave them staring in the face of elimination.
In previous meetings both sides have recorded a win and a draw after three encounters. In the most recent clash Sweden won 1-0 in Ukraine with a goal from Hysen in the 92nd minute. All games were friendly’s so this will be the first competitive encounter between the two national sides.
Predicted line up
Ukraine: O. Horyainov, T. Mykhalyk, Y. Rakitskiy, Y. Khacheridi, O. Husyev, S. Nazarenko, A. Tymoshchuk, Y. Konoplyanka, A. Voronin, M. Dević, A. Yarmolenko
Sweden: A. Isaksson, O. Mellberg, J. Olsson, Martin Olsson, A. Granqvist, K. Källström, A. Svensson, R. Elm, O. Toivonen, Z. Ibrahimovic, J. Elmander
Ukraine vs Sweden odds
Ukraine: 2.50 (6/4) Sweden: 3.00 (2/1) – Bet365 Ukraine are favourites for this tie although recent form suggests it’s a big call from the bookies as Sweden have a similar squad and players who can hurt Ukraine.
Ibrahimovic comes in at 2.50 (6/4) – Bet365 to score anytime for Sweden as he will be looking to add to his 28 for AC Milan domestically. Ukraine’s dangerous attacking midfielder Yarmolenko at 3.00 (2/1) – Bet365 is the Ukrainian to score anytime. A longshot of the day with good value is Rasmus Elm at 10.00 (9/1)- Bet365 to score anytime from the midfield.
Sweden to grab all three points and over 2.5 goals being scored is 5.5 (9/2) - William Hill, a healthy proposition considering the form of Sweden coming off the back of 4 straight wins.
Ukraine vs Sweden predictions
This game is massive for both sides and Ukraine look to be buckling under the pressure recently of being co-hosts. Ibrahimovic leading the line and the creativity in the Swedish midfield I can’t see the Ukrainians getting a win here. Also key player Chygrynskyi not being in the heart of the defence will weaken the Ukraine.
Score prediction: Ukraine 1-2 Sweden
Tip: Sweden Asian handicap +0.25 at 1.825 with Bet365
By Benjamin Smith
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