by Tom Allen
Group D featuring co-hosts Ukraine seems easily the most difficult section to
solve and doubts surround all four competing nations.
Never have expectations been lower for the England football team than they
are at present ahead of Euro 2012 and even what appears a relatively kind draw
is approached with not much optimism.
Roy Hodgson, given such little time to prepare for the finals following Fabio
Capello's departure as manager, is badly hamstrung by Wayne Rooney's two-match
suspension along with a host of injuries but even a full strength England don't
look good enough and an early exit is not ruled out.
Vying for favouritism with France, England will do well to repel the
challenge of bogey side Sweden as well as Ukraine to qualify and making the last
eight is probably the best they can hope for.
Badly devoid of a worthy replacement for Rooney, Andy Carroll will lead the
line, goals look in short supply and England's biggest threat could well come
In Ashley Young the Three Lions have a genuine match-winner, as he was
against Norway in Oslo, but with Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere and Gareth Barry
all absent, the supporting cast is thin on the ground and they make no appeal
The penny is finally beginning to drop with punters regarding Laurent Blanc's
France and they have been well-backed in the run-up to the tournament to go all
Now no bigger than 11/1 to lift the trophy, their attacking threat is among
the very best on show and in Karim Benzema possess a world class striker at the
very top of his game after a fine season with Real Madrid.
With Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri, among others, providing Benzema with the
ammunition, France will cause any team problems going forward but their defence
is far removed from the one that swept all before them at Euro 2000 and they
could struggle in the latter stages against the more potent attacks.
Ukraine, just like fellow hosts Poland, will be eyeing a place in the
knockout stage and they will also appreciate a start against Group D outsiders
Ukraine score plenty of goals, as do their opening opponents, and unlike
other first round matches which are likely to be cagey, this could be a cracker
as both know a win would heap the pressure on the other pair.
With home advantage it is Oleh Blokin's Ukraine, 11/8, that shade Sweden in
the to qualify market but the Scandinavians appear to have been underestimated
to me and they scored in every qualifying match, a campaign which culminated in
a 3-2 defeat of Netherlands.
This group really could see any of the two progress but France are the
standout team and the 7/4 on offer for Blanc's team to top it is fair.
Les Bleus are unbeaten in 20 matches and I'm expecting them to extend that by
three en route to the quarterfinals and possibly beyond.
2pts Back France Group A @ 7/4 (888
1pt Back France/Sweden Dual Forecast @ 7/1 (Betfred)
|Odds To Win Euro 2012 - Group D||Odds||