An enlivened and exciting England squad hope to advance to the quarter-finals with a defeat over Ukraine, while France look set to secure their place in the next round. Here is Crave Online's preview of today's Euro 2012 matches:
England V Ukraine
Last week, the plan worked. England coach Roy Hodgson's appointing of the 6' 3" Andy Carroll up front to counteract Sweden's solid central play with crosses in the box allowed England to take the lead, with pacey play along the wing from the likes of the vastly impressive Theo Walcott allowing the Lions to take the three points in a well-fought and exhilariting victory.
Now England face Ukraine in their final game in Group D, and the stakes could not be higher. A victory or a draw is absolutely necessary for them to advance through to the quarter-finals (only in exceptional circumstances will England be able to progress despite losing today), with Rooney finally allowed back onto the pitch following his suspension in order to help ensure that they do so.
The hyperbole surrounding Rooney's return is perhaps unwarranted yet expected – although the Manchester United striker has never really made the impact on the national team that his overwhelming popularity suggests, the lack of big and experienced names in the teams means that many are excited to discover whether or not the 26-year-old will finally bring that aggression and star quality we have seen from him at his club.
Rooney is set to start with Hodgson having to decide whether he will be paired with Andy Carroll or United teammate Danny Welbeck, with the latter being the more obvious choice. Welbeck and Rooney have scored 30 goals in the last 18 games they have played together, so Hodgson will be expected to capitalise on this impressive stat. On the other hand, Ukraine are struggling for options when it comes to their attack, with Andriy Shevchenko being given a 50/50 chance of playing due to a knee injury.
Expect this lively and determined England squad to take the victory and advance to the quarter-finals.
England 1/1, Draw 12/5, Ukraine 11/4
Sweden V France
Group leaders France need just a draw to advance through to the quarter-finals whilst Sweden are already out of the tournament, so expect a steadily paced game with neither team overly exerting themselves.
Sweden's 3-2 loss against rivals England is sure to have left a bad taste in the mouths of the players, especially captain and goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was said to have been disappointed at his teammates blithe attitudes to their underwhelming defeat against Ukraine. Meanwhile, France are coming off the back of a 2-0 reverse victory against Ukraine, and are expected to seal their place in the quarter-finals with a victory tonight.
Sweden 9/2, Draw 13/5, France 4/6
Header Image: Telegraph