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European Championship

  • 11 June 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • NSK Olimpijs'kyj, Kyiv (Kiev)
  • Referee: C. Çakιr
  • • Attendance: 64290
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Ukraine - Sweden Preview: Co-hosts looking for win in first competitive fixture since 2010 World Cup qualifiers

Ukraine - Sweden Preview: Co-hosts looking for win in first competitive fixture since 2010 World Cup qualifiers

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Blokhin's side have recovered from a wave of food poisoning that took ill a large number of their squad, while the Swedes head into the tie on the back of four victories in a row

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

Ukraine

Pyatov
Husyev, Khacheridi, Mykhalik, Selin
Timoschchuk, Nazarenko, Konoplyanka
Yarmolenko

Devic, Voronin
Sweden

Isaksson
Lustig, Melberg, Granqvist, Olsson
Elm, Svensson, Kallstrom, Larsson
Toivonen
Ibrahimovic

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin has confirmed that the number of his players that were taken ill with food poisoning, before their warm-up loss to Turkey, have made a full recovery in time to face their Swedish opponents.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Andriy Voronin are thus likely to return to the starting line-up, while the Ukraine boss will also make several other changes all over the pitch. Star striker Andriy Shevchenko could be forced to start on the bench as he has struggled to find full fitness of late.

Sweden have a clean bill of health after Johan Elmander recovered from a foot injury to take part in training during the week. As such, Erik Hamren will have to make a decision on who to partner big-name striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with.

Ola Toivonen scored and impressed against Serbia in their final warm-up game so expect him to get the nod over Elmander and play just behind the AC Milan forward, with Markus Rosenberg as another option on the bench, meaning the visitors would be unchanged from that 2-1 victory.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • This is Ukraine's first-ever appearance in the European Championships, making them the only debutants, with the World Cup in 2006 their only major finals.
  • As co-hosts they will have the crowd behind them, but Blokhin's men have lost four of their last eight home outings.
  • After Poland's 1-1 draw with Greece, none of the last eight hosts have won their opening games at the Euros.
  • The Ukrainians are yet to find the back of the net in open play at a major tournament finals.
  • Ukraine boss Blokhin scored against their Group D opponents in a friendly game for the Soviet Union in 1982.
  • Sweden come into the clash having won their last four friendlies, and winning eight out of 10 qualifiers.
  • Since their semi-final appearance when hosting the tournament in 1992, the Swedes have managed just two wins from 10 ten games.
  • AC Milan forward Ibrahimovic (pictured right) has netted in his last three matches for his country.
  • Hamren's men scored in all 10 games in their qualifying campaign, bagging more than one goal in eight of them.
  • Each side have one victory from the previous three meetings between the two, with the other match being drawn.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
Players to Watch
Andriy Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 11
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 0 0
Euro 2012 may be Ukrainian star Shevchenko's last shot at glory with his nation, but it may also signal the start of another Andriy's bright international future. The Dynamo Kyiv player, and reported Arsenal target, will have a double home advantage, with the game being staged in Kyiv, and he is certainly one to watch in Group D.

The 22-year-old plays as part of an dynamic three-pronged attacking midfield for his club, but is more likely to be a lone figure of flair amongst a practical Ukraine side. He can bring skills and swagger to the co-hosts and after contributing 18 goals and 16 assists to Kyiv last season can offer a threat in front of goal as well.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
3 2 0 0
Athough the Milan striker is sometimes criticised for not being a team player and for often playing selfishly, his goalscoring form will be key to any success for Sweden. Hamren's side are by no means a one-man team, with Elm and Larsson offering quality on either flank, there is no doubting that the 30-year-old is their best player.

This season's top scorer in Serie A, netting 28 times, will probably be deployed as a main striker, with one of Rosenberg or Toivonen just behind him and will pose a real threat to the Ukraine back-four, however if the co-hosts can stop Sweden from playing and thus frustrate and isolate Ibrahimovic then they have a great chance of upsetting their Scandinavian opponent's chances.
Prediction
With the two favourites to progress from Group D, France and England, facing each other in the other opening game, Ukraine and Sweden have a great chance to put pressure on the losing side from that fixture, should there be one. Three points here would mean that a couple of draws should be enough the qualify for the quarter-finals.

However, the flip-side is that a loss could be devastating, therefore expect a cagey affair with both sides cautious of conceding. Ukraine have the home advantage but Sweden's quality and competition experience will see them have the majority of the ball and, providing they manage to get the breakthrough, bag a couple of goals.
Editor's Prediction
Sweden 2

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