After a great result (in a great game) against Sweden, England are just a point away from qualification to the knockout stages of Euro 2012, standing in their way are the only remaining host side with a chance of qualification; the Ukraine.
As we head toward the final games in Group
D England are tied with France on four points, sitting second on goal
difference. Tournament co-hosts Ukraine are on three points (after beating
Sweden and losing to France) and pointless Sweden, who can’t qualify, round out
The Ukraine play England on Tuesday night while
Sweden face France.
The safest bet in the world will be that
any decent English pub showing the match will filled enthusiastic St George
crosses and Wednesday morning will see a huge drop in English workplace
productivity. England may well fancy their chances as the Ukraine are 55th in
the Fifa world rankings - below such flyweights as Armenia and Panama.
may be favourites to qualify at 1/4, but quarter final places shouldn’t be
counted before they hatch. The Ukraine can still qualify if they beat England,
so don’t expect them to roll over and want their bellies tickled, especially
with boisterous and numerous home fans behind them.
Our own brand of hope and glory
It’s nothing but good for England as the
Three Lions seem to be improving game by game under Woy (who is now offered up
at Evens to see out his four year contract). England are still around 11/1 to
win Euro 2012, but they are 9/2 to reach (and go out at) the semi-finals (like
they did in 1996). Ukraine looked impressive going into their first European
Championship, winning five out of six pre-tournament friendlies and drawing
with Germany, but the 2006 World Cup quarter-finalists were still reasonably
long shots at 45/1 (to win Euro 2012) after they failed to qualify for the 2010
(Sir) Roy Hodgson reckons co-hosts Ukraine
might indeed raise their game against England because of the influence exerted
by their local fans. "The Ukraine will be a tough nut to crack. All hosts
are tough nuts to crack,” said Woy. Speaking from experience he added, "I
managed Switzerland against hosts United States at World Cup '94 - it wasn't
easy. The passionate crowd could push Ukraine to heights they might not
ordinarily achieve." Many soccer betting shops have Ukraine beating England at 11/4. If
they beat England and France draw or lose against Sweden (at 3/1 and 5/1) it
would be the co-hosts who top Group D, available at 8/1.
England have faced the Ukraine twice before
in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, beating them 2-1 at home but losing 1-0 away.
Those scores are offered up at soccer odds of 8/1 and 10/1 this time round.
Reasons to be cheerful
England need just a point to guarantee
qualification and a draw in Tuesday night’s game is at 6/5. England could top
Group D if they outperform the French but France are the bookies favourites to
top the group at 8/13. England are 2/1 to top Group D and 9/10 to come second.
FYI if England and France both win (or draw), the top spot (and a quarter final
game against the runner up from Group C) goes to the team with the superior
goal difference. Should both England and France lose, the team which has the
superior goal difference between the pair will qualify (and face the winner of
England’s biggest issue seems to be which
goal scorers to start Tuesday’s game with. There’s Danny Welbeck, who hit the
winner as England came from behind to beat Sweden (for the first time in a
competitive fixture) on Friday night. There’s Andy Carroll, who opened the
scoring against Sweden with a superb first-half header. And
don’t forget Wayne Rooney who is eligible to play after missing the first two
Euro 2012 games through suspension.
Welbeck is 11/8 to get a goal against
Ukraine, Carroll is 7/4 to score at any time and Rooney is 5/1 to score first
against Ukraine (and 11/8 to score at any point), worth a cheeky bet as the
Roonster will be carrying a pair of fresh legs onto the pitch should he play on
Tuesday night, not to mention “fresh” hair.
I’d say that England have too much
attacking talent not to score (they are 8/1 to be the highest scoring side in
Euro 2012) and I doubt the Ukraine will be able to outscore them. A swift
glance at the record sheet tells us that the Ukraine hasn’t kept a clean sheet
in four games (a run that has seen them conceded eight goals) while England have
scored six goals and kept two clean sheets in the same period.
England win 3-1 available at 16/1
(although Mrs Richardson reckons it’ll be 1-1, which is offered up at 5/1).