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European Championship

  • June 15, 2012
  • • 17:00
  • • Donbass Arena, Donets'k
  • Referee: B. Kuipers
  • • Attendance: 48000

Ukraine - France Preview: Co-hosts can progress with win over Blanc's side after Shevchenko's dream start

Oleg Blokhin's men got off to a great start by beating Sweden in their opening game, while Les Bleus need a vital three points in the Group D battle after drawing with England



Husyev, Khacheridi, Mykhalyk, Selin
Tymoschchuck, Rotan
Nazarenko, Konoplyanka, Yarmolenko


Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra
Cabaye, M'Vila, Malouda
Nasri, Benzema, Ribery

In Ukraine's last outing against Sweden their opponents sat back and opted to counterattack, however France are more likely to play on the offensive from the start, and to control possession. Therefore, Oleg Blokhin may well field a slightly more defensive line-up than the XI who defeated Erik Hamren's men 2-1.

The main option for the Ukraine boss would be to sacrifice a striker in order to overload the midfield in an attempt to stop France from playing. Match-winner from Monday night Andriy Shevchenko could be the man to make way after the 35-year-old, who has been struggling for fitness, played 80 minutes against Sweden and has also been reportedly involved in a car accident, although no injuries were sustained. Ruslan Rotan is a possible candidate to fill in as the extra man in midfield.

Laurent Blanc decided not to risk Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila in their opening game against England, but he is likely to be back to full fitness and start in place of Alou Diarra. Apart from that, France are expected to stick with the same team that drew against Roy Hodgson's men.

However, should Laurent Blanc wish to freshen things up Hatem Ben Arfa and Marvin Martin, who netted twice against Ukraine in a friendly last year, were introduced late on against the Three Lions and offer variety going forward. Reported Arsenal-bound Olivier Giroud is also an option. Laurent Koscielny also represents a slightly different approach in defence, should the coach see fit to swap things around.

  • Their opening Euro 2012 2-1 victory over Sweden was Ukraine's first-ever win at a European Championship finals.
  • The co-hosts' opponents, France, are one of the three sides that have managed to win the European Championship on home soil (1984).
  • The Ukrainians have failed to beat Les Bleus in all previous meetings. There have been three draws with the French winning the other three.
  • France beat Ukraine 4-1 in a friendly in June 2011, including two goals from Marvin Martin (pictured right), and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk scoring Ukraine's only goal.
  • Blokhin's side are 38 places behind Les Bleus in the Fifa World Ranking.
  • France allowed fellow Group D contenders England just one shot on goal in their opening Euro 2012 game.
  • The visiting side were involved in the highest-scoring match in European Championship history, a 4-5 defeat to Yugoslavia in 1960.

Players to watch

A. Tymoshchuk

Position: Midfielder

Games: 1

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Although it was Shevchenko who stole the headlines with his double against Sweden, this clash with France is a completely different challenge. The co-hosts are going to see a lot less of the ball and therefore the experienced defensive midfielder will need to be a real general in Donetsk if Blokin's men are to have any chance of a result.

The 33-year-old will be familiar with many of the French top-class names, such as Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, after playing either alongside or against them, with Bayern Munich. He must remain switched on at all times with Les Bleus' flair men dropping into pockets of space all over the field. What the veteran now lacks in pace, will need to be made up with each ounce of his positioning, organisation and intelligence.

S. Nasri

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Manchester City's attacking midfielder most certainly looked like a man with something to prove against England, celebrating his equaliser with both relief and sheer feistiness. Reports suggested afterwards that it was aimed at certain members of the French media who had not been fully supportive of the 24-year-old.

The former Arsenal man will therefore want to continue to let his football do the talking, with an unproven defence the perfect opportunity to do so against. However, he must not become arrogant or selfish with the ball, as that will only bring the whole team performance down, and turn and already overwhelmingly unfavourable crowd even more against him.

Editor's Prediction

France will be looking to win this game without too much trouble. However, it is easy to forget that it's Ukraine that currently top Group D. The co-hosts were more than delighted to have won their first game, but don't be fooled - expectation on Blokhin and his men is high, and they will want to win. Expect Ukraine to be stubborn to break down, and to work extremely hard for their cause, but France know how important three points will be. Laurent Blanc's men should win, not overwhelmingly, but comfortably.

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Reader's Predictions

Ukraine UKR
Ukraine Ukraine
France FRA
France France

Top 3 Predictions

Ukraine UKR
1 - 2
France FRA
Ukraine UKR
0 - 2
France FRA
Ukraine UKR
1 - 3
France FRA