Group D Opening Games

After an exciting opening weekend of Euro 2012, Monday sees the final group get under way as England take on France before co-hosts Ukraine begin their campaign against Sweden.

The first game at the Donbass Arena looks like it could decide who will qualify in top spot from Group D and both the Three Lions and Les Blues will fancy their chances going into the match in Donetsk.

After a superb qualifying campaign and almost perfect build-up to the tournament, France are now seen as one of the teams who may challenge for the overall victory and will expect to beat Roy Hodgson’s understrength side.

On the other hand, England’s preparation for the championships has been marred by controversy following the departure of previous boss Fabio Capello but since the appointment of Hodgson, there seems to be an air of confidence around the camp and the team appear to be thriving without the usual pressure of being amongst the favourites.

This has all the hallmarks of a typically cagey opening game but with the likes of Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery in their ranks, Laurent Blanc’s men should just sneak the victory as Paddy Power amongst other bookmakers has them as the short odds favourite.

The late match on Monday sees Ukraine face the ever improving Sweden, who many are tipping as possible outsiders to win the group.

Like Poland on Friday, co-hosts Ukraine will be looking to feed off the home support and for what they lack in talent, they will certainly make up for in in enthusiasm.

It’s also key to note that this tournament is likely to see the legendary Andriy Shevchenko’s final steps onto the international stage and the former Chelsea man will be desperate to go out with a bang, so look out for him to make an impact off the bench following an injury ravaged season.

After failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Sweden have re-built well ahead of this tournament and look to have the ideal balance within their side, with a number of workmanlike players providing the perfect platform for the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic to perform at his best.

Although the Ukrainians will certainly be inspired by their passionate support, Sweden should have more than enough class to win the game and don’t be surprised if they record a comfortable victory in Kiev.