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UEFA Euro 2012 Group D Betting Tips & Predictions
A balanced group featuring two-time winners France, England and Sweden, and co-hosts Ukraine that will be making their first appearance in the tournament as an independent nation. France and Sweden didn’t make it out of the group stages last term, while England failed to qualify – with debutants Ukraine, this group is clearly up for grabs as far as recent international form is concerned.
Co-hosts Ukraine has a history that is interesting. This will be their first time in the tournament, but in terms of pedigree, they do have what it takes to win. In 1988, the majority of the players who started for the Soviet Union in the final hailed from Ukraine. They eventually lost the game, ending the tournament as runners-up. And while the accolade falls to Russia now, Ukraine will certainly be proud of that episode in their rich footballing history.
It remains to be seen whether Andriy Shevchenko will be fully fit to play for Euro 2012 or not. The 35-year old may just have enough gas in the tank to play one more major tournament, and this time, he will be playing his game in front of the Ukrainian crowd. Apart from Shevchenko, 22-year old Andriy Yarmolenko will also be looking to help his team make the most out of this tournament.
Sweden’s style has improved much over the years, with changes in style doing the team good. A good balance of attacking and defensive football has been the highlight of the team, with Erik Hamren coming to the fore and imposing a special sense of discipline to the team. This summer, Sweden is looking to start well in arguably the most unassuming group, and perhaps challenge for the title if things go their way.
The team is led by no other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The lanky hit-man capped the 2012 season with 35 goals in all competitions. His team was just unfortunate to finish as runners-up in the Serie A and quarterfinalists in the Champions League. Despite that, the imposing Swede was able to prove his worth, adding a year to his tally of successful campaigns in Italy.
A dismal 2010 World Cup wasn’t any better than their Euro 2008 showing – in these last two tournaments, France wasn’t able to make it out of the group stages. After these two disappointing campaigns, Laurent Blanc was installed as head honcho for the national side. He has been successful in disciplining players since his coming, at the same time coaching France to play attractive attacking football grounded on possession and short passing. He has been experimenting with different formations during qualifying, but this time out, it looks like he will be going for a 4-2-3-1 with Karin Benzema up front.
Karim Benzema is France’s main man for Euro 2012. The forward scored 32 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid last season, 21 in the league to help his team win the title. Hatem Ben Arfa meanwhile is set to make it back to the national team for this summer’s undertakings. His move to Newcastle paid dividends, with five goals and five assists in 16 appearances that ultimately aided his team’s rise to a top-five finish.
England, being the last team to be drawn, will find a hint of fortune in the fact that they were able to avoid heavyweights this time around. In a group where each team is at par with each other, the Three Lions will be fancying their chances come June. With new manager Roy Hodgson now leading the squad, a positive vibe has engulfed the team. It remains to be seen whether this vibe will transform into performance on the pitch once the tournament starts.
With Wayne Rooney about to serve his match bans in the opening matches of the tournament, Danny Welbeck was poised to take his spot. The problem is that Welbeck has picked up an injury in the recent weeks. Only time will tell if he can make it just in time, or if Hodgson risks his chances and gives a spot to the young Englishman.
England fans will not turn to Steven Gerrard to provide the goods for the team. The midfielder has been struggling with fitness issues time and again, and Three Lions fans will be praying that he will be playing to lead his team to glory. This is even more urgent, as Scott Parker remains to be a doubt for the squad.
Group D Betting Tips & Prediction
This is a tough one to call given the balance the group possesses. But fancy France to emerge as winners at 8/15 with England as runner-up at 1/2. While it could go the other way, France seems to be stronger on paper, and if everyone in the line-up unleashes their full potential, they have what it takes to see this group through. England has a slight edge over Sweden so while a close finish might be in store for these two teams, expect the Englishmen to advance to the knockout stages.
All odds are from Bet365.com (£200 FREE BET!).