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Euro 2012 Preview – Group D

Quietly confident… Steven Gerrard looking smug ahead of Euro 2012. (Photo: PA)

Here we are. The fourth and final group to preview, and it’s an interesting one.

GROUP D – THE GROUP OF HOPE

This is the other more open group, with all four nations having a reasonable chance of making it through the group stage. That’s not to say some are going to find it harder than others, however.

 

UKRAINE

As tournament co-hosts, they’re obviously going to have a wave of public support. But is that enough? Their main hope is midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, but he and nine of his teammates have been struck down with food poisoning, which will surely be a big blow. Tymoshchuk has been on an intravenous drip, which doesn’t sound too promising. It’s come at a horrendous time, with their first match against Sweden huge in the context of the group. I just can’t see them overcoming this massive hurdle.

Fantasy Tip: Nothing really interests me here.

Bottom Line: This health scare is going to out-weigh the support from the home supporters. Will bow out in the group stage.

 

ENGLAND

It’s funny. There are little expectations on the England side, but because of that, fans are quietly confident, which has in-turn lead to a massive level of anticipation, but it’s all sort of hush hush. Injuries to Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry, and Frank Lampard have meant preparations haven’t been ideal, not to mention a change in manager a few months ago really throwing a spanner in the works. Wayne Rooney will miss the first two matches through suspension, but this could be a blessing is disguise, as a fresh, world-class player will return to the fold for the last group match. How will he be used though? I don’t know where he’ll fit into England’s system. Danny Welbeck could be the man to start the first two matches, or Andy Carroll. Of all the top sides, England perhaps have the most stable defence, with John Terry, Lescott, Cole, Jones, Johnson, Jagielka and Baines all giving Roy Hodgson food for thought. Oh and Joe Hart is a beast. They struggled for a quality keeper in the 2010 World Cup, but Hart has resolved that issue.

Fantasy Tip: Welbeck might be a unique option. Young, Gerrard and Parker should also come into consideration. Wouldn’t hurt to pick a defender either, as I can’t see them leaking too many goals compared to some other nations.

Bottom Line: Should move past the group stage – who knows what will happen after that?

 

FRANCE

After the disgrace that was the 2010 World Cup, Blanc has done a good job of not just rebuilding the side, but restoring faith of the national team in the French public. I think their key man will be Karim Benzema – if he finds the sort of form he has shown as of late, look out. A dynamic, young midfield featuring M’Vila (currently injured, it’s unknown if he will be fit in time for the game against England), Cabaye and Nasri, along with experienced wingers Malouda and Ribéry, and the man who thinks he’s a winger, Evra certainly shows promise. Throw in Ben Arfa, Koscielny and Clichy, and there’s plenty to work with there.

Fantasy Tip: I’m looking at Ribéry, and M’Vila if he’s fit. Benzema is a real option as well.

Bottom Line: Will go through, and are my dark horse in the competition.

 

SWEDEN

Another interesting team to look at. On paper, by no means the worst side at the tournament (sorry Ukraine), but much of their success and failure comes down to one man – Zlatan Ibrahimović. He’s a champion, but there are two schools of thought – some say they play better with their best player in the side (duh), while others think he changes the dynamic of the side too much, and disrupts the rest of the team. Memo to Sweden – you can’t just pass him the ball and expect him to do everything. You have to give him the support as you would any other player in his position. The likes of Larsson and Elmander need to step up.

Fantasy Tip: Big Zlat is in my side. Is he in yours? Oh and a ridiculous 47% of coaches have picked up Martin Olsson. You probably should too, just so you’re not left out.

Bottom Line: If Ibra kills it, they might make it through. I can’t see it happening regardless.

 

Adrian’s Predicted Final Standings

1. France

2. England

3. Sweden

4. Ukraine

 

Join our Fantasy League

If you want to go up against us in the official Euro 2012 fantasy game, here’s our league code: 56747-77231.

 

Those are my thoughts on Group D. But I’d be far more interested to hear what you think is going to happen. Leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter – @adrmcm or our Facebook page – facebook.com/whosplayingwho.

If you missed them, here are the other previews:

Group A

Group B

Group C

 

And that’s it for my Euro 2012 preview. That’ll do me. As you can probably tell, I’m looking forward to the tournament. There should be plenty of goals scored across the board (I hope so at least). Bring it on!

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