Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Euro 2012 - England vs Ukraine

Euro 2012 - England vs Ukraine

 Tonight England face Ukraine with a Quarter Finals place on the line. England fans should be proud of their players for reaching this stage considering Hodgson and his squad have only been together for four games.

The news this week has understandably focused on Wayne Rooney's return from suspension. Rooney is expected to take the place of Andy Carroll in the England starting lineup and will look to link the midfield with Danny Welbeck who has looked isolated at times over the first two matches. In some quarters Rooney is considered England only true world class player, Ashley Cole may have some gripes about this, and although he isn't up to the standards set by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo he should still bring something different to the England side.

Theo Walcott, England's hero against Sweden, has passed a fitness test on his hamstring but will miss out on a place in the starting lineup tonight. James Milner is favoured by Roy Hodgson for his defensive diligence and he will hopefully provide cover when Glen Johnson goes on his lung busting runs. If England need some fresh attacking impetus Walcott and his Arsenal teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will offer nice options from the bench. If the result looks secure hopefully Theo's hamstring will be given a rest in preparation for the Quarter Finals.

Ashley Young will have been put on notice with Walcott's cameo against Sweden. The United attacker has been very disappointing so far this tournament and England cannot afford to carry him through the knockout rounds. England still stand a good chance of winning the group and avoiding the Spanish in the Quarter Finals, although Italy may not be an easier opponent. Sweden will look to make France's lives difficult before they head home.

England's opponents tonight may be missing their 35 year old talisman with the Ukrainian coach claiming Andrei Shevchenko is only 50-50 for this match, but it is hard to imagine that he will play no role tonight. Neither Shevchenko or Voronin will start for Ukraine but they will offer a very dangerous option from the bench. And England must not forget about Yarmalenko and Milevskiy who will threaten the England goal from the off.

With this in mind Joe Hart will need to show his Manchester City form. At times he has not dealt well with the shots that have come his way and he hasn't commanded his area in the way Casillas and Buffon do for their respective countries. Joe Hart has it in him to be one of the best goalkeepers England have ever had and Hodgson will be looking for him to show this on the big stage.

Ashley Cole is set to make his 21st tournament appearance and this experience will be vital. The England left back has made a number of last ditch blocks, but these may be in short supply tonight as Cole will have to keep Yarmalenko quiet out wide on the Ukraine right wing.

Hopefully he will help England hold a higher line against Ukraine which will be key in keeping a clean sheet. Unfortunately they have had a tendency to drop deeper and deeper as the game progresses and if Shevchenko comes on late in this game he will look to take advantage of this.

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