Winner Takes it All
Group D: England vs Ukraine
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
20:45 (local time); 14:45(EST); 00:15(Wednesday, 20 June)(IST)
Donbass Arena, Donetsk
Interestingly, Last Day Syndrome has been a characteristic of the group stages in the current edition of the European Championship. Each of the four groups would know its top two team at the end of the corresponding final ‘match day’. In group D, fierce battle waits the four teams to decide who will go through to the quarter-final stage. In Donetsk, the Three Lions will face the host Ukraine knowing that a draw will be enough for them. On the other hand, Ukraine will require an outright win to proceed to the last eight stage. However, English coach Roy Hodgson is pragmatic enough to know that aiming for a draw against the Ukrainians will be a dangerous gamble to play with. Although they drew a blank against the French, Ukraine was quite enthralling against Sweden with their ‘Sheva’ in scintillating form. England too was listless against France with only showing some sort of form against the Swedes. As pre-match reports are emerging, the two teams are facing contrasting fortunes. In this match, Hodgson will be very happy to welcome back his number One hitman Wayne Rooney who returns after serving his suspension. But Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin may have to send out his team in this vital game without the talismanic Andriy Shevchenko who is down with a knee problem. With so much up for grabs, this tie can’t be devoid of drama. It will take a lot from set of players to decide their fate. Blokhin has called upon his boys to give their everything on the pitch till the last minute in quest for the desired result. Belief seems to go up in the English camp after the Sweden win, now it is to be seen how the express themselves during the match. Bursting at the crucial moment has always been a thorn for England.
TEAMS AND STRATEGY:
Although Rooney will be back in the reckoning for the match, it will be quite interesting to see how Hodgson will incorporate him in the team. It is always a bit risky to alter a winning combination especially in a tournament but at the same time, leaving Rooney on bench will be unfathomable given the lack of cutting edge in attack of the team so far. So Hodgson will have to leave out either of Andy Carroll or Danny Welbeck on the bench and in all probability he will go for Rooney-Welbeck combination as the pair already has a thriving understanding at Manchester United. Another vital decision will be whether to start with Walcott who was excellent last match or stick with James Milner as the right-sided midfielder. Although Milner was quite ordinary in the first two matches, it seems Hodgson will persist with him as Walcott’s lack of defensive awareness won’t be suitable for team’s tactics. Instead Hodgson will look continue to look at Walcott as an impact substitute and will bring him in later stages of the match according to situation. The central defence too need to be tighter as they were responsible for the two goals conceded last match and the midfield duo of Steven Gerrard and Scot Parker has to continue their hard work.
PROBABLE XI : Joe Hart ; Glen Johnson , John Terry , Joleon Lescott , Ashley Cole ; Steven Gerrard , Scot Parker , James Milner , Ashley Young ; Wayne Rooney , Danny Welbeck
Oleg Blokhin said that he will wait till the last moment for Shevchenko who will be a vital cog in his plan to stifle the English force. If ultimately Sheva is not available, Blokhin will turn to either of Artem Milevskiy or Marko Devic .Rest of the Ukraine team will remain the same like the last two matches. Both Ukraine and England aren’t too expert in keeping possession and a more direct game will be on display. In konoplayanka and Yarmolenko, Ukraine have two speedy wingers who will bomb forward at every opportunity. Another vital role will be given to Andrey Voronin who was excellent in the first match against Sweden. He will work his socks off trying to link between the midfield and the striker. The Captain Anotoliy Tymoshchuk will be trying to curb Rooney’s playmaking effort in his role of defensive midfielder. If Ukraine can find their rhythm similar to their first match, they will prove to be quite an handful for the English team who are the favourite going into the match.
PROBABLE XI : Andriy Pyatov ; Yevhev Selin,Yevhen Khacheridi,Taras Mykhalyk, Oleh Husyev; Anatoliy Tymoshchuk , Serhiy Nazarenko,Yevhen Konoplyanka,Andriy Yarmolenko; Andrey Voronin , Andrey Shevchenko ( Marko Devic/Artem Mievskiy)
“ England are among the favourites, so the pressure’s on them”
Oleg Blokhin on his opponents
“He’s a world-class player and I can see it in his eyes that he’s itching to get out there and perform. He could, hopefully, make the difference.”
Roy Hodgson on Rooney’s return