Defending champions Spain and 2006 FIFA World Cup winners Italy joined the likes of Germany, Portugal, Greece and Czech Republic in the last eight of the tournament after winning their respective matches last night. Spain defeated Croatia 1-0 to send the Croatians out, while Italy registered a 2-0 win over already knocked out Republic of Ireland.
Today it’s time for the final two games of the group stage as co-host Ukraine, England, France and Sweden are all in action. Ukraine face England in a do-or-die clash in Donetsk, while Sweden play for pride as they take on France in Kiev. Here are the predictions for the two games..
Date – 19th June, 21:45 GMT
Stadium – Donbass Arena, Donetsk
Prediction – This one is a huge clash for both the teams, but its all overshadowed by the return of one man – Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United star is back after serving a two match suspension and is set to start alongside Danny Welbeck in the starting XI. England need just a draw to advance but it could very dangerous if they play just for a point, while the co-hosts must win to advance. Anything other than a win and they are out. The game is expected to be an open affair with both teams going for the win rather than just defending. England are the stronger of the two sides and with Rooney coming back they are way more stronger. England will come out and dominate the game from the start. As expected Rooney – who will be playing in the hole just behind the striker – will be the key for the Three Lions. England will have most of the possession but Ukraine will create a couple of early chances. England will continue to dominate and will soon be rewarded for their domination just after the half hour mark. Danny Welbeck – who scored the backheel winner against Sweden – will give his side the lead and his United teammate Rooney will play a huge role in the goal. The co-hosts Ukraine will come out on the offensive after the interval and will go out all guns blazing for the comeback but that will leave them vulnerable at the back. The game will be more stretched in the second half and England wingers will love that. Ashley Young and Theo Walcott will trouble the Ukrainian full backs with their pace and with less than 20 minutes remaining on the clock, Wayne Rooney will announce his return with a goal to grab all three points for his country. Ukraine will join Poland as the co-hosts to be knocked out in the group stages, while England qualify for the quarter finals as the second best team from Group D and will face defending champions Spain in the last eight.
Predicted Final Score – England 2-0 Ukraine (Welbeck, Rooney)
Date – 19th June, 21:45 GMT
Stadium – Olympic Stadium, Kiev
Prediction – This is the first and surely the last dead rubber game of this tournament as it has nothing up for grabs. France are in a good position to qualify, while Sweden are already knocked out. France must lose way badly than England not to qualify for the last eight, if the Three Lions lose to Ukraine today. Can’t see that happening at all. With this not being an important game, Laurent Blanc won’t game his winning team and will most probably play all his star players to give them match practice ahead of the potential quarter final clash against Italy. On the other hand, Sweden will play without pressure as they have nothing to lose. This game will be an open game with France dominating the possession. Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery will be the key for Les Bleus as they will dictate the game and create chances for Karim Benzema and Jeremy Menez. Benzema will open the scoring for the French in the first half and then Franck Ribery will score his first goal of the tournament just before the interval. The 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist will take 2-0 lead into half time but after the interval Sweden will get a goal back. It will be their inspirational skipper, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who has been in top form in this competition – with a thumping header from a Seb Larsson cross. Sweden will attack and go for the second goal and test keeper Hugo Lloris but France will hit them on the break and wrap up the game. Samir Nasri will score the third and final goal of the group stages after a brilliant move involving Ribery, Benzema, Menez and the goal scorer himself. The win means France win the group on goal difference and will play Italy in the 4th quarter finals in Kiev itself, while Sweden go back home without a single point.
Predicted Final Score – France 3-1 Sweden (Benzema, Ribery, Nasri ; Ibrahimovic)