The “big man is back” Wayne Rooney once proclaimed on his return to the England side after a pre-World Cup 2006 injury. The tournament ended with Rooney dismissed during England’s quarter-final defeat to Portugal. Six years on, and it’s crunch time in Group D at Euro 2012, with England facing up to an early exit should Roy Hodgson’s side suffer defeat to Ukraine on Tuesday night.
However, victory over a mediocre Sweden side last week, together with Rooney’s return to the side from suspension, leaves England favourites to qualify along with France from Group D. Spain and Italy await in the knockout stages, and victory tonight will not ensure that England avoids the world champions, with France holding a slender goal difference advantage heading into the final Group D fixtures.
There’s plenty of Manchester United interest in these games, with Rooney likely to start alongside Danny Welbeck in attack for England, and Ashley Young on the wing. Meanwhile, Patrice Evra and Phil Jones are likely to be on the bench for France and England respectively.
Join United Rant for live comment, analysis and chat on England v Ukraine and Sweden v France from 7pm, with updates, team news and preamble throughout the day.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 22:02
As Keano finally agrees with Jamie Cararararagerrrr about something…
I’ll take the chance to say thanks and Tarra from moi…… ( @JonyB007 )
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:59
Italy v England
You just know that we’ll be able to trolley out the same stats.
We’ll be out-passed, probbaly by double the amount in the final third.
We’ll concede more possession and shots and we’ll rely on grabbing a goal and defending like… errr Lions(?)
Would of been wonderful to see a Scholes – Pirlo Pass off!!!!! Might of saved the game.
As it is I’m going for a 2-1 England win before being totally butchered by Germany!!!!
Ed - Tuesday 21:52
So an obdurate performance from England who got very fortunate with the ‘goal that never was’, were generally out passed by a technically superior Ukrainian side and conceded a lot of chances to the opposition. But, at the same time England made last ditch tackles, cleared off the line (!), blocked shots – you know, the stuff the papers love!
England top the group and few would have expected that at the start of the tournament. Yet, in Italy England will face an opponent of a hugely different class.
That said, England will play almost exactly the same – it’ll be all about the shape. Two banks of four, defending deep and solidly. Will Pirlo outpass England? Absolutely. Will Italy be technically superior? No doubt at all. Will Balotelli and De Natale give Terry a hard time? Completely.
Will England lose? Who knows, because at the moment Hodgson has found a formula that is just about working. Defend with shape, be strong in set pieces, and get balls into the box. Should be an interesting match up next weekend.
France – hugely disappointing against Sweden. The French bossed possession, created LOADS of chances, but were very wasteful. Sweden didn’t waste the few chances created – and Ibrahimovich scored an outstanding goal.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:49
So despite a 2-0 Loss against Sweden, France progress in second place.
Mexes and Rami Verses Spains 4-6-0 may just result in that …… 46-Nil!!!!
They look massively slow and cumbersome and will desperately need Le Bleus Defensive minded midfielders to really act as protection for them. Concentration and Discipline is not a well known French quality = do you think they need Wroy????
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:44
Shots 3/10 - 3/16
Passes 262/321 [81%] – 387/454 [85%]
Att 1/3 65/91 [71%] – 112/153 [73%]
poss 43% - 57%
I’m sure Hodgson will be roundly praised in the media and you can imagine the media starting to Crank up the “England: Euro Momentum” Headlines already.
More clinical than Ukraine. France and Sweden has seen a rather dour England progress. Will it be Good enough? I’m Doubtful!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:36
Goal For Sweden…
That’s it then, Larsen smashes in a second – Winners of the group… STAND UP ENGLAND!! (In Two Banks of Four of course!)
Ed - Tuesday 21:35
Same old story
No doubt that England’s two banks of four is going to be difficult to beat. Ukraine had lots of possesion tonight, and created plenty of chances. But England defended desperately at times, got (very) lucky with the goal that never was, and kept a very good shape. England’s tactical pattern is set – defend solidly, try and score from set pieces.
Will it help England beat Italy? Hard to say – Italy will have lots of the ball in Kiev, as all of England’s opponents have done. But then Greece used the same tactical pattern in 2004 and it took an unfancied side all the way.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:33
Hard Working Team > Skill
England outfield players have blocked the most shots at EURO 2012 after nearly three rounds of games (18 until Now).
Ed - Tuesday 21:31
Passes: 25/33 (76%)
Attacking third: 12/18
Chances created: 1
On target: 2
Ed - Tuesday 21:27
No goals for Zup Zup Welbz today, but he’s had a solid game as the front runner for England. Not been as involved as he would have liked, and no shots on goal (none taken either), but neat with his passing as always.
Passes: 15/16 (94%) – 7/7 in the attacking third
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:26
last 10 mins
that bastion of possession and skill, Andy Carroll replaces Zup Zup Welbz for the last 10mins….
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:24
Ibrahimovic 1-0 France…
Shots : Swe 9 v Fra 18
(Ibrahimovic = 1 Shot, 1 On Target = 1 Beautiful Goal!)
Passes : Swe 272/326 [84%] v Fra 371/418 [89%]
Final 1/3 passes : Swe [41/58] v Fra [108/140]
Poss : 39.9% v Fra 60.1%
Ed - Tuesday 21:24
The other game update
Sweden holding out pretty comfortably as it stands after Ibrahimbovich’s outstanding volley. Goal of the tournament to beat France? Just maybe. There’s plenty left in this French side but Blanc’s outfit does look to have run out of ideas.
Ed - Tuesday 21:22
Rash of substitutions
Ukraine replace both strikers and a midfielder in a last ditch attempt to get something out of this game. They’ve been unlucky (very unlucky) to not get the equaliser the play deserved. Now, with a little more than 10 minutes left in the game Oleg Blohkin plays his last hand. Ukraine must win to progress.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:19
Ed? Did we just see a complete Flap by England’s BEST Keeper from a long shot…. No media Dissection I presume for that one??
Ed - Tuesday 21:18
Ukraine still creating chances?
Will they take one? At this stage it really doesn’t matter for the group positions with France still losing to Sweden in the other match. As it stands England will face Italy in Kiev on Sunday, and France will play Spain in Donetsk on Satuday night.
Ed - Tuesday 21:16
Hint of offside?
With “the goal that never was”. Not had a good replay of this but since the initial pass was down the wing, the striker was probably ‘first phase passive’…. will need more replays to be conclusive about this one.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:16
I’m not sure how this has happened but with less than 20mins England are going through to Face Italy as Group Winners!!!???
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:12
Mr Blatter Are You Watching?
That’s the sarcastic call from the commentator….
Terry ‘Clears’ Off the Line…… Ready for Media-Gasm tomorrow
Will there be the same media furore about THIS disallowed good Goal!!?
Wait for the media to cream themselves about good ”ole JT
And the ignorant to feel vindicated by Rio’s exclusion
Ed - Tuesday 21:11
Successful Passes: ENG 209 – 281 UKR
Completed %: ENG 84$ – 86% UKR
Possession: ENG 45% – 55% UKR
Attempts: ENG 8 – 12 UKR
On target: ENG 2 – 2 UKR
Ed - Tuesday 21:06
Ukraine blow two chances in a row… and then robbed by officials
Really should have equalised (twice) inside two minutes. First a header over from no more than five yards out and then Terry clears when the ball is clearly over the line. What’s that you say about goaline technology?
Ed - Tuesday 21:02
He couldn’t really miss could he?
The easiest goal at Euro 2012 so far. They all count though!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 21:01
GOAL to SWEDEN!!!
Benzema claiming to be stalked by United’s Boss but his shooting doesn’t reflect that attraction… Poor!!
Wasteful Benzema… Needs more than One chance to Score Mr.Hoddle
Benzema Blowing His own Trumpet as Ibrahimovic’s brilliant Bicycle Kick puts Sweden ahead!!!
Ed - Tuesday 20:59
And Sweden are 1-0 up in the other game. France not in trouble – as it stands England top of the group and France second. A real turn up for the books in a game France as controlled.
Check out Ibrahimovic’s finish though – a flying volley. Simply brilliant.
Ed - Tuesday 20:55
The worst ‘keeper in international football
Pytov. He’ll be having nightmares about letting Gerard’s cross slip right through is arms. Unbelievably poor. But then again he is, apparently, Ukraine’s fourth choice goalkeeper.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:53
Goooooooolllllll De Rooneyyyyyyyy!!!!!
Four of England’s five goals at EURO 2012 have come from a cross now………………………….
Ed - Tuesday 20:52
He’s Pele again now
Half time – saw pundits and the Twitterverse questioning Roy Hodgson’s decision to include Wayne Rooney. Talksport ‘host’ Andy Durham must have been frothing at the mouth…
… and then Rooney scores.
Ed - Tuesday 20:49
And we’re under way
Will the second period be better for England? Will the English players forget 50 years of retarded development and actually discover they can pass the ball? Does a bear shit on the pope in the woods?
England’s passing shocking. That a team ranked 48 places below in the FIFA rankings should be so much more comfortable is an utterly damming indictment of the English coaching system. Not that anyone will remember that – there’s two polar extremes with England. After this game England’s either “going to win the tournament” or “it’s all Rooney’s fault”
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:41
Andriy Shevchenko has scored four of Ukraine’s seven goals at major international tournaments. Are England lucky or what he’s unable to play????
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:38
Whistle….. Definitely going down the ‘Bore them into submission’ route…
My Second favourite though would be Wee Scotty Parker’s Head Tackle
- Parker plays ‘HEAD’Ball
Obviously given up totally on the idea of FOOTBall……
Ed - Tuesday 20:34
- lost 7 of the past 14 home matches
- FIFA ranking 52
- 21 of 23 players play in the Ukrainian league
- No striker in the squad, Shevchenko aside, has more than 8 goals in international level
- Have never qualified for a European Championship side before
Outplaying England though!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:32
Benzema v Ronaldo…
Benzema seems to have played too long with Ronaldo since he’s taken his purchant for long shots with very much less effective results….
Ed - Tuesday 20:28
England playing for a draw?
It’s almost the only conclusion to be draw from that last attack when just THREE English players joined the break. This isn’t the 88th minute where a draw is enough – it’s 41 minutes in. England very conservative, playing within themselves and happy to defend.
Ed - Tuesday 20:26
Nasri hobbles off
The City player is struggling with a knee injury. Should be ok to continue for France who are still trying to break down a stubborn Swedish side in the other game.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:24
Out Played By Ukraine….
Passes : Eng [125/148] v Ukr [175/200]
Poss : Eng 45.8% v Ukr 54.2%
Shots : Eng 3 v Ukr 8
Ed - Tuesday 20:22
Increasingly on top, not just in terms of possession but territory. They’re playing in front of England, and the England’s two banks of four are dropping back onto the half way line. This is a team ranked in the 40s on the FIFA co-efficient (and any other come to think of it) bossing England. I said on the pod that England would find it hard to change a mindset…. Hodgson’s team is struggling and could really do with an outlet. Walcott – quite rightly – has a lot of critics. He’s a joke of a footballer, but has the pace to stretch the game and get England away from defending. Mind you, perhaps Hodgson doesn’t want to do that.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:19
You can really feel the crowd getting behind Ukraine…. Great atmosphere being created by the home fans…..
Ed - Tuesday 20:18
Over in the other game
Still pretty even between France and Sweden. France using the ball much better as you would expect, but Sweden defending with more purpose than against England last week. France should break Sweden down, but then again Russia couldn’t break Greece down the other night!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:17
Finally a commentator acknowledges the other team’s better!!!
Ed - Tuesday 20:16
Shocking miss from Rooney
A ‘Kevin Keegan’ moment there as Rooney flashes a header wide with the goal gaping. Unmarked, 10 yards out, and Rooney heads wide. You can almost hear the knives being sharpened and the effigies being prepared as we watch. After all, England always needs a scapegoat!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:14
Errrrr misses!!!! Match rusty there!!! Of course not mentioned there by Mr.Townsend!
Ed - Tuesday 20:13
Carlo SErtori not Carlo SArtori
One’s an England physio, the other’s a flame hair Manchester United midfielder from the 1970s!!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:09
Asking For It???
That’s Absolutely NO shots England and Six shot for Ukraine [4 Off Target/ 2 On Target]!!!!!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 20:05
France – Sweden Update [15mins]…..
Passing : Sweden 62/72 [86%] v France 110/119 [92%]
Shots: Sweden 3 v France 4
Poss : Sweden 37.4% v France 62.6%
Ed - Tuesday 20:05
Ok, not to keep banging on about this, but already Ukraine outpassing the English. More passes, more successful passes, more accurate passing, more possession.
Maybe it doesn’t matter – Croatia took Spain all the way last night with 28% possession. But it’s worrying for England supporters when the lowest ranked team in the group is more comfortable with the ball. More to the point – Ukraine already create four chances. Not good chances, but chances nonetheless.
Ed - Tuesday 20:00
Rooney dropping deeper now
At United that’s a sign of Rooney being involved in the game – the creative pivot around whom so much comes to life at Old Trafford. For England it’s so often the sign that Rooney is frustrated with a lack of service coming from the horribly wasteful English midfield…
… Rooney has just started dropping deep. Which is it? You decide!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:59
Mexes does a Mexes and as the Swedish, Toivonen rounds the keeper its just too tight for him to role it in…… Hits out side of the post……
Ed - Tuesday 19:57
Is looking really bright for France in the other game and the Newcastle man’s shot is saved at the near post by Isaksson in the Swedish goal. It’s real surprise Ben Arfa hasn’t played before now – he’s had a much better season than either Menez or Malouda who were picked against Ukraine and England respectively.
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:56
Heavy Fall sees Karim Benzema feeling the full force of that fall…..
Ed - Tuesday 19:55
England defending with two banks of four – is there more to come from Roy Hodgson’s side? Already it looks as if Ukraine is more accomplished in central midfield than England. No surprise there – the game will be won on lost on the break for England, and whether Terry and Lescott can defend better than the very average show against Sweden.
Ed - Tuesday 19:53
Over in the other game
Nasri, Ben Arfa, Ribery line up behind striker Benezema. France could pick a more attacking line-up for tonight’s match with Sweden. Will it secure the victory and the goals to ensure top place in Group D? Well, whatever the result Laurent Blanc cannot be accused of being negative!
Ed - Tuesday 19:51
Rooney and Welbeck
Up top as a pair, rather than the split strikers we’re used to seeing at Old Trafford when Rooney plays 15-20 yards off Welbeck. Is this simply the opening skirmishes or a plan by Roy Hodgson to play more of a straight 4-4-2 than United do? We’ll see in due course.
Ed - Tuesday 19:46
Rooney’s big night?
Five weeks after the Manchester United striker last played, in a team better at defending than passing, it would be a major surprise if Rooney significantly influenced this tie. But eight years on from his last goal in a tournament, maybe, just maybe Rooney is due a good game and some luck. Otherwise, there’s a scapegoat for the English public just waiting there…
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:46
England and Ukraine have met four times prior to now……
England won the first three meetings, all on home soil, scoring seven goals and conceding just once.
But in the World Cup 2010 Ukraine beat England 1-0 in Dnipropetrovsk courtesy of a Serhiy Nazarenko goal
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:44
The Kick Off…….
France V Sweden At Kiev Olympic Stadium
England v Ukraine at Donbass Arena, Donetsk
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:36
Andy Carrolls Good Game v Sweden
14/25 of all passes completed.
7/16 passes completed in the final third.
Only 2/8 Aerial Duels won.
No Tackles, No Blocks, No Dribbles.
So Basically A Poor Touch for a Big Man who can’t Win Headers.
Mmmmmmmm…. Can’t quite understand the clamour for him to play ahead of well, anybody!!!
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:29
The Carroll Question Answered
After listening to some of the rubbish on TalkSh*te today as I drove up the M6 you’d have thought it was close about who should partner Rooney… Zup Zup Welbz or Andy ‘Two Good Games‘ Carroll….
Andy Carroll v Danny Welbeck Verses Sweden
Jony Ball - Tuesday 19:21
Rooney Leads England to Glory?
How much pressure can the media and pundits put on Wayne Rooney?
Ed - Tuesday 19:17
Andrei Shevchenko isn’t playing tonight, so why does he need five pairs of boots?
Ed - Tuesday 18:50
Wayne Rooney returns in attack for England and is paired with club colleague Danny Welbeck in attack. Ashley Young retains his place on the left-wing, while Liverpool striker Andy Carroll drops to the bench in an otherwise unchanged England side. Opponents Ukraine will be without star striker Andrei Shevchencko – the 35-year-old misses out with a knee injury sustained in the 2-0 defeat to France.
England (4-4-2): Hart; Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole; Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Young; Rooney, Welbeck
Yohan Cabaye misses out for France with an injury, with Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila returning to the side. Winger Jeremy Menez loses his place in the side to Hatem Ben Arfa, while Gael Clichy is retained ahead of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Ola Toivonen comes into the Sweden side for the injured Johan Elmander.
Sweden (4-2-3-1): Isaksson; Granqvist, Mellberg, J Olsson, M Olsson; Källström, Svensson; Larsson, Ibrahimovic, Bajrami; Toivonen
France (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Debuchy, Rami, Mexès, Clichy; M’Vila, Diarra, Ribéry, Nasri, Ben Arfa; Benzema
Ed - Tuesday 15:57
France coach Laurent Blanc says France must be wary of Sweden’s physical strength in tonight’s game. Sweden, guaranteed to finish bottom of Group D, will be without Johan Elmander and Magnus Elm.
“There’s always the danger that you may take your eye off the ball. So it is up to us to prepare seriously. We also need to be very aware of what we want to achieve. We were very happy following the Ukraine game, rightly so, but as I said to the players, we now need to prepare for the next game, as a game like this against Sweden demands it.
“Sweden expected [to achieve] more but they are still a very difficult side to play against. They are very physical – they have a playing style based on a lot of strength in the tackle. They’ve got some very big players so they will try to impose their game on us. They won’t come to make up the numbers.”
Ed - Tuesday 15:37
Ashley Young to start
Says Goal.com, with the website claiming Roy Hodgson will retain the Manchester United man on the left-wing despite two disappointing performances in the tournament to date:
“Ashley was very good in the two pre-tournament matches we played against Norway and Belgium. I think now that he’s back in his classic position and he has got Wayne playing alongside him – who he does play alongside every week – we will see more and more from him. And I have faith in him, because I think he is a very good quality wide player, a very good quality winger, with a lot of ability. I am hoping he will show that ability against Ukraine.”
Which is no surprise, of course, given that Young was probably England’s most productive attacking player in the 12 months prior to Euro 2012.
Ed - Tuesday 14:54
He’s a very gifted footballer
Rio Ferdinand on Wayne Rooney’s return:
“This is what Wazza loves. When it’s a crunch game and he has to do the business it doesn’t worry him at all. It is what being a world-class player is all about, you’re supposed to enjoy the big occasions and do your best work. It hasn’t always gone right for Wayne in the past in tournaments for different reasons like injury and getting sent off.
“But I know he has no fears about the fact he can do the job and do it well. When he’s at United and it’s a really big occasion, he wants the ball all the time and he wants to do everything he can to get the win for us. He doesn’t get nervous about it. He’s not arrogant in the sense that he goes round like he’s better than everyone else. He is very much one of the team, enjoying the banter, giving it out and getting it back. But he knows how good he is and what he is capable of doing and that he is a very gifted footballer.”
Ed - Tuesday 13:23
Round the Blokhin
Oleg Blokhin, Ukraine coach, tells local supporters not to shoot is team if they fail to fly to the moon. Eh?
“There will be big problems for them but it’s not the same for us. The England team will be more nervous. We have nothing to lose. They are one of the favourites and are expected to play in the final. Nobody expects that we will fly to the moon. It would be fantastic, but that’s another thing. The fans should expect good play, but we shouldn’t say to our nation ‘we’ll win the Euros’. They shouldn’t shoot at us if we lose. We should consider England as leaders in the European Championships. They also have problems because if they lose it will be unexpected.”
Ed - Tuesday 13:18
No expectations you say? Well don’t tell BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce who is already looking forward to England beating World Champions Spain in the quarter-finals:
“I saw nothing in the Spain performance last night to think that we have to avoid Spain and I certainly don’t think they are the team they were. They miss Villa and Puyol so badly. Xavi is still the brains and Iniesta is a magician but Puyol has been their soul for about a decade and they struggled for long periods against Croatia. We’ve beaten them once this year and I think we can do it again. If we qualify in second we shouldn’t be lamenting that, I think we can reach the semi-finals.”
That’s the Spain side which has lost one competitive match in four years. Despite Pearce’s claims of “struggling” against Croatia, Spain claimed 72 per cent possession, with 90 per cent of passes successful on the night. The Spanish made 15 attempts at goal, with eight on target, conceding just three chances to the opposition.
Ed - Tuesday 12:47
Hodgson on Rooney
“His attitude was perfect in training sessions. He has been very lively, energetic and enthusiastic. That’s a positive. If you look back through the years, if you take Pele for example, he was capable of producing his very best football when it really mattered to help Brazil win World Cups. Let’s hope that Wayne Rooney can start to do that for us on Tuesday night and then, if we win, who knows? If Wayne can produce his best, then he can help us keep going even further.”
“Our discipline in our four games so far has been very good. We have picked up a few yellow cards and have been unlucky to get them. The players will be aware we are playing away from home and we have to be careful as sometimes emotions do boil over.
“There is the obvious pitfall that you could be tempted into trying to shut up shop and drop deeper and deeper only to find that in the last minutes of the game your opponents get a lucky goal, get given a penalty or a wide free-kick gets deflected into your goal. We will be trying to make sure we take the initiative, but Ukraine will be trying to do the [same] and that is what makes this a fascinating game of football.”
Ed - Tuesday 12:45
The. Big. Man. Is. Back!
So much for low expectations. There appears to be little middle ground with England fans. Swinging from polar extremes of doom, to a giddy belief that Roy Hodgson’s side is about to conquer Europe. After the dour draw with France, England’s victory over Sweden has once again inflated expectations – and Wayne Rooney’s return has lifted them from the stratospheric, to the giddy. Hodgson’s comparison of Rooney with Pelé hardly helps calm the mood!
But he giddy mood shouldn’t take away from the task ahead. While England faces, arguably, the worst team left in the tournament, the game takes place at the magnificent Donbass Area in Donetsk. Fervent home support may yet push Ukraine to one final performance, and England out of the tournament.
Hodgson’s men need only a point to secure qualification and a probably meeting with Spain, once again in Donetsk, on Saturday night. Handsome victory could secure top place in the group and a meeting with Italy in Kiev next Sunday.
Yet, this is England; tournament doom is a more regular occurrence than success. And that’s where those inflated expectations come in – should Rooney fail to deliver victory the blame, inevitably, will be directed towards the Manchester United man.
Meanwhile, in the other game France is seeking a healthy win over doomed Sweden, and the prize of top place in Group D.