Euro 2012: At least one point for England
This should be a pretty close match but it's one I just can't see England losing
Lee Dixon muses on Euro 2012 so far and offers you his best bets ahead of England's crucial game against a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-dependant Sweden.
The general consensus after the draw with France is that England were a little better than we expected but have a lot of improving to do if they're to be serious contenders to win this.
I don't think many people would be backing us to beat Germany in a knock-out match the way Jogi Low's team are playing. Russia have looked impressive going forward even though they haven't been tested that much at the back and Italy could be pretty tough to beat, too.
And you can say what you like about Spain not playing a striker but the way they pass the ball and move, the system they go with may become pretty immaterial. I still think Germany are the team to beat though and that England's price of (14.5) looks about right.
I don't think England can beat one of the big guns if they continue with the same system, even when Wayne Rooney comes back. Giving the opposition possession for so much of the game is incredibly tiring, especially for the midfield men. Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker were spent at the end of the game.
I think Roy Hodgson will go with the same XI provided everyone recovered ok from the first game. If it were me, I'd be tempted to do one of two things. Either play Ashley Young on the right wing, bring James Milner into the middle and have Steven Gerrard play closer to Danny Welbeck. Or bring in Theo Walcott on the right (for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain), play Ashley Young on the left and again ask Gerrard to be more of threat going forward, whilst still providing an extra body in the middle of the park. Let's see what Roy decides to do.
Match Odds/Draw/No Bet
We say it every time Sweden play but their destiny could very much depend on which Zlatan Ibrahimovic shows up. We know for certain that they'll try to give him as much of the ball as they possibly can. If he's on-song and makes things happen England could have a really tough night ahead of them. But that's a big if because he looked a little sulky in the first match despite scoring and laid into his team-mates at the end of it. That's Zlatan for you.
We're all aware of Sweden's strong record against England but this is a powerful back four England have at the moment. Only Ashley Cole isn't really a big, solid lad so any of the physical threats Sweden may have posed in the past may be a little less relevant this time round.
This should be a pretty close match but it's one I just can't see England losing. By backing England in the draw/no bet market you get paid out at 1.6 if they win and get your money back if it ends draw.
Over/Under 2.5 goals
I think the story of England's tournament will be that however well or badly they do from here on, they won't score or concede more than one goal in any game. They're a well-organised team at the back but they don't really send too many men forward when they have the ball. It was no surprise their goal came from a set-piece. I don't mean any disrespect to Roy or the boys when I say that they're unlikely to be one of the more entertaining teams at the tournament. But neither were Greece in 2004, were they?
1-0 or 2-0 England are lively runners in this match. But if the goals don't come by the middle of the second-half it may just be that both teams decide to go for broke in their last group match than taking too many risks in this one. That would bring 0-0 into the equation. Any of these outcomes would see under 2.5 goals pay out at 1.74.
To be shown a card
The aforementioned Ibrahimovic played a lot deeper against the Ukraine than we are used to seeing him play at club level. They obviously think he can be more involved in the game from that position. What it means is that the responsibility to pick him up falls to one of the central midfielders rather than the centre-backs and that probably means Scott Parker. He'll need to cover a lot of ground and may be forced into making the odd challenge on Ibrahimovic (or others) when they run with the ball in that space between the midfield and England's box. Fatigue will play a big part late on in the game as well and I wouldn't be to surprised if the Spurs man finds his name in the ref's book sooner or later.