Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine start their campaign against Sweden at Olympic Stadium in Kiev, and Oleg Blokhin’s side are seen as slight favourites in what should be a very close game.
The Yellow-Blues have had almost three years to prepare for the tournament finals played on home soil, but coach Oleg Bloghin is far from happy with his current crop of players.
The team clearly lack a natural goalscorer, while there are problems in other areas of the side as well.
Following a great run of results that saw Ukraine win five games and share spoils with Germany, Oleg Blokhin’s side were beaten by Austria and Turkey in their final warm-up games, with the two defeats acting as real blows to the players’ confidence.
The Yellow-Blues will now give their best to beat Sweden in front of the packed Donbas Arena, but at odds of 2.62 (13/8) offered by BetVictor, Ukraine don’t look a good bet here.
Key attacker Andriy Yarmolenko has recovered from a stomach muscle injury and is set to start on the right flank, with Andriy Shevchenko likely to start on the left.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Pyatov – Gusev, Mykhalyk, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy – Nazarenko, Tymoshchuk – Shevchenko, Voronin, Yarmolenko – Milevskiy.
After missing out on the 2010 World Cup, Sweden made sure they qualify for the Euro 2012 and they largely impressed in the qualifying campaign, taking 24 points from 10 games.
Friendly defeats to Denmark and England in November were a cause for concern, but Erik Hamren’s side soon returned to the right track and won next four warm-up games.
The Swedes were far from impressive in the final two tests against Iceland and Serbia, but everyone could see the players were saving themselves for what awaits them in Poland and Ukraine.
The return of star forward Johan Elmander means that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will occupy the playmaker role, which appears to suit him very well indeed.
Seeing that boss Erik Hamren will have fully fit squad to choose from, Sweden look a good bet at 3.00 (2/1) offered by 888sport.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Isaksson – Granqvist, Mellberg, J. Olsson, M. Olsson – Svensson, Kallstrom – Larsson, Ibrahimovic, R. Elm – Elmander.