When favorites win, predictions usually seem to be on. That’s what has happened the last two days. Will tomorrow be any different?
Sweden is supposedly going to be playing a lot of second string players now that they have been eliminated from the tournament. If Ibrahimovic doesn’t play, it will obviously be a big boost for France. Sometimes, when reserve players play – and these aren’t scrubs but full internationals – and they aren’t under any pressure to get a result, the underdog usually does well. However, with France knowing that a loss could eliminate them from the tournament if the other game ends in a draw, they will go all out to win. Add to that the benefit of not having to play Spain in the next round if France wins this match by enough of a margin – though it’s not entirely clear whether you would want to play Italy or Spain in a knockout match at this stage – and that’s enough for me to predict a France win. Stone cold lock.
Pre-game prediction: France 2 Sweden 0
Benzema and Ribery to score for France.
The England game could go either way. What does Roy do now? Draw and England are through. But, you are playing the host country who have to win to go through with Shevchenko possibly out… or possibly in for a glorious finish. What if you sit back and give up a late goal – can you come back? I believe he will choose the safe path. Start Welbeck up front with Rooney in the slot. Young on the left, Gerrard on the right and Milner and Parker at holding midfield. I wouldn’t start Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott initially. They are to come on for Young and Milner depending on what the score is in the second half. The interesting thing will be to see how Rooney and Gerrard play. My feeling is you should let Rooney have a free role in the slot and have Gerrard drop more centrally between Parker and Milner. It would be a modified Christmas tree that let’s Roy see if the Manchester United trio can do the business at the goal end of the tree.
Pre-game prediction: England 1 Ukraine 1
England could easily score three again, but I think it will be Gerrard for England and Yarmolenko for Ukraine.