Euro 2012: England v Ukraine preview
- 19 June 2012 10:29
- Posted by David Clayton
England face co-hosts Ukraine this evening knowing that if they avoid defeat, they will progress to the quarter-finals.
Roy Hodgson’s side will look to build on their thrilling 3-2 win over Sweden, but like group leaders France, England know there is a lot of hard work still to do to make the last eight.
Crucially, the winners of Group D will face Italy at the weekend while the runners-up will face current world champions Spain, so the incentive to finish top and avoid La Roja is huge.
Hodgson believes the only way to approach this game is to go for a victory and expects the Ukrainians to do the same with anything other than a win condemning them to the same fate as co-hosts Poland, who crashed out on Sunday.
“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,” said Hodgson.
We would all be disappointed if the game didn't go our way and we had to take the plane home
"There would be an enormous amount of disappointment and dissatisfaction if that happened.”
England welcome back Wayne Rooney this evening with the Manchester United striker having served his two-match ban and Hodgson must decide whether Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll, who both scored against Sweden, makes way.
England skipper Steven Gerrard is cautiously optimistic about his side’s chances, but is keen to take one game at a time.
"If I started talking about quarter-finals and we slipped up, I would never forgive myself,” he said.
“Let's deal with the quarter-finals and what to expect if we get there and not before."
Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin played down his own country’s chances of progression ahead of the game, despite home advantage.
Though Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in their opening game, a 2-0 defeat against France means nothing less than a victory is required tonight.
"The England team will be more nervous than we are,” he said. “We have nothing to lose. They are one of the favourites and are expected to play in the final.
“The fans should expect a good match, but we shouldn't say to our nation 'We'll win the Euros' and they shouldn't shoot at us if we lose!”
Former Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin added: "It is the biggest game in our history."
There will be a full match report later this evening on mcfc.co.uk.