Ukraine v Sweden
31 May 2012 Last updated at 10:36 GMT
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Euro 2012: Ukraine v Sweden
- Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
- Date: Monday, 11 June
- Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, highlights on BBC One and BBC Sport website
Continue reading the main story Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (0)
Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin says the bout of food poisoning that affected his squad last week has now cleared up.
Andriy Shevchenko looks set to edge out Yevhen Konoplyanka in the support striker role behind Artem Milevskiy.
Sweden striker Johan Elmander returned to full training on Friday, a month after a fracturing a metatarsal.
He is expected to start, but if he is not fully fit then Ola Toivonen could lead the line, while captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play a deeper role.
Ukraine may be making their debut at a European Championship but as part of the Soviet Union their footballers have a rich tradition in the competition's history. It was under legendary Ukrainian coach Valeriy Lobanovskiy that the Soviets marched to the final in 1988, with seven of the team beaten by the Netherlands in the final also born in Ukraine.
Continue reading the main story
“ I think the fact that we are not regarded as favourites is good. There will be less pressure on the team”Oleg Blokhin Ukraine coach
Their ambition this summer is more modest - coach Oleg Blokhin recently complained that his defenders "don't even tackle properly" and his forwards don't score enough goals. Nonetheless, Blokhin's largely domestic-based squad will be out to surprise, with Sweden first up in their sights.
The co-hosts have not enjoyed the smoothest of preparations for Euro 2012 on or off the pitch but now the tournament is here the Ukrainian public are out to enjoy themselves and give their 35-year-old hero Andriy Shevchenko the international swan-song he deserves.
The 2004 European Footballer of the Year is no longer the player he once was but he represents far more than just an aging striker to his nation - his displays for AC Milan and Dynamo Kiev helped put newly-independent Ukraine on the footballing map. However, with his physical abilities in decline, he may struggle to last 90 minutes.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren is never shy of an off-the-cuff comment. When asked about the advantage Ukraine will get from their passionate home support in Kiev he said he would just pretend the yellow and blue hordes were Swedish - the countries share the same national colours.
Yet beyond the jovial public image lies a deep thinker, a man who has set about showing the world there is more to Swedish football than the resolute, defensive-style favoured by his predecessor Lars Lagerback.
Hamren has built a young and exciting counter-attacking side built around the mercurial talents of skipper Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They scored 31 goals in qualifying, including a 3-2 victory against the Dutch, and have come to Euro 2012 to entertain.
- The two countries have met on three previous occasions - all friendlies - and two of those matches came last year.
- Both sides recorded 1-0 away wins, Ukraine's coming in June 2008, Sweden's in August 2011. The draw was played out in Cyprus in February 2011. Afterwards the sides contested a penalty shoot-out which Ukraine won 5-4.
- Ukraine are the only debutants at Euro 2012. The first four European Championships (1960-1972) were won by newcomers but none have been since.
- Of all the 368 players at Euro 2012, Andriy Shevchenko has enjoyed the longest international career. He made his debut in 1995.
- Oleg Blokhin's men are the only side at Euro 2012 without a British-based player in their squad.
- Only two players, Andriy Voronin and Anatoliy Tymoschuk, play outside of Ukraine.
- Olof Mellberg is set to represent Sweden at a fifth major tournament. He is yet to miss a single minute at any of the finals he's been present at.
- Sweden coach Eric Hamren has selected nine players aged 30 or older - the highest number of thirty-somethings at Euro 2012.
- Kim Kallstrom recorded seven assists during qualifying for Euro 2012, equal highest along with Germany's Mesut Ozil and Hungary's Balazs Dzsudzsak.
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Article Source : BBC News
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