Tag Archives: Group D

Champions League Group Stage Ultimate XI

Group Stage Ultimate XI

The Champions League group stages are done and dusted with Chelsea becoming the first holders in the history to be knocked out in the group stages, Manchester City completely out of Europe, Real Madrid finishing second and Lionel Messi in fine form.

Here, IntoTheTopCorner picks its Group Stage Ultimate XI, containing the very best performers over the six matchdays in a 4-5-1 formation. There’s an alternative to each selection, so have a look at the team below…

GK – FRASER FORSTER (CELTIC)

Forster

Celtic are through to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2007/08 season and they had some individual performances to thank for. The former Newcastle United shot-stopper is one of them, as he had two brilliant games against Barcelona that actually secured their qualification. A last-gasp defeat at the Camp Nou and a historical win at Celtic Park did their confidence a world of good, and their final matchday win over Spartak Moscow was more than deserved.

Alternative – Joe Hart (Manchester City)

RB – PHILIPP LAHM (BAYERN MUNICH)

Lahm

Bayern’s skipper and Mr. Consistent, Philipp Lahm, has proved dependable yet again as the Bundesliga leaders secured the top spot in Group F ahead of Valencia. Though, the German international captain did his best work on the left flank he comes in our side as a right-back. He managed three assists and won one penalty in the five matches he played and looked very solid at the back.

Alternative – Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)

CB – THIAGO SILVA (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)

Thiago Silva

The Brazilian is known as one of the best defenders in the world of football at the moment and he didn’t let anyone down. The former AC Milan centre-back was very consistent throughout the group stages as he helped the French side to first place in Group A in their long-awaited return to Europe’s elite. He scored two goals including the opener in PSG’s important win over Porto on Matchday six.

Alternative – Martin Demichelis (Malaga)

CB – MATS HUMMELS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Hummels

Dortmund – surprisingly – topped the Group of Death and they had their solid defence to thank for it. Hummels, the integral part of the reigning Bundesliga champions’ back four, was at his very best as Die Schwarzgelben remained unbeaten in all of their six group games and also managed to keep three clean sheets in the process.  All the defence played their part, but the German international was perhaps the standout performer in Jurgen Klopp’s back four.

Alternative – Nicolas Otamendi (Porto)

LB – GIORGIO CHIELLINI (JUVENTUS)

Chiellini

Juventus secured their passage through to the knockout stages as Group E winners thanks to an unbeaten run of six games. Their last three were impressive wins and also clean sheets, while the Old Lady came out victorious in Donetsk – a feat achieved by very few teams in the past 12 months or so. The Italian international was perhaps the most impressive player in Antonio Conte’s back three.

Alternative – Christian Fuchs (Schalke)

CDM – ARTURO VIDAL (JUVENTUS)

Vidal

The Chilean international has to be one of the players of the group stages. The former Leverkusen man is a typical box-to-box midfielder combining defensive steel with goal-scoring prowess at the highest level. His partnership with Claudio Marschisio is the engine of Conte’s team. In the group stages, he averaged 4.8 tackles per game and scored three goals with one assist—an absolutely remarkable feat for a defensive midfield.

Alternative – Victor Wanyama (Celtic)

CM – WILLIAN (SHAKHTAR DONETSK)

Willian

The Brazilian alongside the Chilean gives our side some South American feel in the midfield. Willian, who has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham in the past, was one of the top performers for Shakhtar scoring four goals and creating two as they made it through to the last-16 and dumped the holders out of the competition in the process.

Alternative – Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk)

CM – ISCO (MALAGA)

Isco

The 20-year-old Spaniard scored twice and assisted two in six games to announce himself on the European stage and walk straight into our line-up. While he has failed to to translate this form into his La Liga games, Isco has been in super form in the Champions League. It’s his form in the in Europe’s elite competition that has clubs scrambling to meet his €18.5 million buyout clause before Malaga extend his contract, and it’s clear this kid has something slightly special.

Alternative – Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)

RW – CRISTIANO RONALDO (REAL MADRID)

Ronaldo

Love him or hate him, but the Portuguese is surely one of the best players in the world and he proved it with his performances for the Spanish champions in the group stages. The former Manchester United star managed to scored six goals in the group of death and will be hoping to score many more in the later stages as he hopes to guide the Los Blancos to their first ever Champions League title in over a decade.

Alternative – Juan Mata (Chelsea)

LW – LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)

Messi

A Champions League team without the best player in the world? Not possible at all. The Barca striker is at his very peak and was again at his very best in the group stages scoring five goals and creating two as he helped the Catalans top their group. The Argentine has had the best year having scored 90 goals and will be hoping more of the same in 2013 as he looks to guide his team to yet another European success.

Alternative – Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray)

ST – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (PARIS SAINT-GERMIAN)

Ibrahimovic

Out strike force is a nightmare to any team and Ibrahimovic leads it. The Swede has played for the many elite club during his career but his contributions for the French capital side in this season’s campaign can’t be ignored. He has managed to score just two goals in the six games but it’s the five assists that are the most impressive. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez must really enjoy playing alongside the Swede as he continues to impress.

Alternative – Jackson Martinez (Porto)

Group Stage Ultimate XI

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Champions League Permutations

ucl-permutations

Just one round of fixtures remain in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, with 13 teams having already qualified for the last-16. 

All the four Spanish teams are through to the knockout stages along with Arsenal & Manchester United, and with just three places up for grabs holders Chelsea are one of the six teams in contention on 4 and 5 December.

Qualified for the last 16: FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Arsenal, Malaga (GW), AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund (GW), Real Madrid, Shakhtar Dontesk, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Barcelona (GW), Manchester United (GW).

GW – Group Winners 

Can still qualify: Juventus or Chelsea; Benfica or Celtic; Galatasaray or CFR Cluj (in each case losing team will play in the UEFA Europa League).

Confirmed in the UEFA Europa League: Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, BATE Borisov.

Can qualify for UEFA Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg or Anderlecht; Ajax or Manchester City (in each case the losing team will be knocked out of Europe)

Knocked out of Europe: Dinamo Zagreb, Montpellier, Nordsjælland, Spartak Moscow, LOSC Lille, Braga.

Here lets have a look the the permutations for all the eight groups..

4TH DECEMBER

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain (12pts) v FC Porto (13), Dinamo Zagreb (0) v Dynamo Kiev (4)

Porto have qualified with the most number of points after five games and will clinch the first place in the group win a win or a draw in Paris.

PSG are also through but must beat Porto to finish top.

Dynamo Kiev will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League

Dinamo Zagreb are out of Europe.

GROUP B

Olympiakos (6pts) v Arsenal (10), Montpellier (1) v Schalke 04 (11)

Schalke  are through and will win the group if they get all three points in France or Arsenal are denied a win in Greece due to their head-to-head superiority.

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages for the 13th year running but to top the group, they must win at Olympiakos and hope Montpellier don’t lose to Schalke.

Olympiakos will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

GROUP C

Malaga (11pts) v Anderlecht (4), AC Milan (8) v Zenit St Petersburg (4)

Malaga in their debut season in the Champions League have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over Milan.

Milan are through as runners-up of the group.

Zenit lie third on goal difference as they are level on head-to-head with Anderlecht, with whom they fighting for a place in the last-32 of the Europa League. If the two matches in the group end in a draw, the Russian wll qualify for the Europa League due to the superior goal difference.

Anderlecht will qualify for the Europa League knockout stages if they pick up more points than Zenit or overturn their goal difference.

GROUP D

Borussia Dortmund (11pts) v Manchester City (3), Real Madrid (8) v Ajax (4)

Dortmund have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over the reigning Spanish champions.

Real Madrid are through as runners-up, the 16th year in a row they have made it through their group.

Ajax will qualify for the Europa League if they win in Madrid or if Manchester City fail to win at Dortmund due to the Dutch champions’ head-to-head superiority.

Manchester City will qualify for the last-32 of the the Europa League if they win in Germany and Ajax fail to win in Spain.

5TH DECEMBER

GROUP E

Shakhtar Donetsk (10pts) v Juventus (9), Chelsea (7) v Nordsjælland (1)

Shakhtar are through and will clinch first place with a win or draw in their final game.

Juventus will finish first with a win against Shakhtar, and will be through with a draw even if Chelsea win against Nordsjælland.

Chelsea need to win their final game and hope the Italian champions lose as their head-to-head record is inferior to both teams above them.

Nordsjælland are out of Europe.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich (10pts) v BATE Borisov (6), LOSC Lille (3) v Valencia (10)

Bayern are through to the last-16 and top on head-to-head record ahead of Valencia. The Germans will win the group if they beat BATE or secure as many points as Valencia.

Valencia are through but must pick up more points than Bayern to finish first in the group.

BATE will finish third and enter the Europa League as their head-to-head record is superior to Lille’s.

Lille are out of Europe.

GROUP G

Barcelona (12pts) v Benfica (7), Celtic (7) v Spartak Moscow (3)

Barcelona are through as group winners

Benfica will be through with a win in Spain, or as long as they pick up the same number of points as Celtic, as they have the head-to-head superiority over the Scottish champions.

Celtic must pick up more points than Benfica to overtake them and make in through to the last-16.

Spartak are out of Europe.

GROUP H

Manchester United (12pts) v CFR Cluj (7), SC (3) v Galatasaray (7)

Manchester United are through as group winners.

Galatasaray are second ahead of Cluj on head-to-head record. They will qualify with a win in Portugal or as long as they pick up as many points as the Romanians.

Cluj must secure more points than Galatasaray to qualify for the Round of 16.

Braga are out of Europe.

IntoTheTopCorner’s UEFA EURO 2012 Awards

Spain created history on Sunday night in Kiev by winning their third successive major tournament, with a dominating 4-0 win over Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 final at the Olympic Stadium in Ukraine.

UEFA EURO 2012 has been an exciting and very competitive tournament with some tight, action-packed and mouth-watering matches.  Looking back to last 23 days’ of action, IntoTheTopCorner brings you it’s own UEFA EURO 2012 awards.

TEAM AWARDS

BEST TEAM – SPAIN

Many have criticised La Roja for being boring at times during the tournament, but when it mattered the most they turned on the style and silenced all the critics with emphatic 4-0 win in the final over Italy. Although Vicente Del Bosque’s men have not been at their best throughout the competition, they have done what is needed to win the trophy and ended the campaign with an outstanding performance in the final.

WORST TEAM – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Some fans expected Ireland to cause some upsets or shocks in Group C, but it never happened. The team had a good blend of players but completely failed to perform when needed. They were completely out of depth and ideas. Giovanni Trapattoni’s men lost all of their three group games, conceding nine goals and scoring just one.

OVERACHIEVERS – GREECE

Most didn’t expect Greece to make it through to knockout stages from Group A, but in the end they were eliminated from the competition along with the likes of England and France. Coming into the tournament as huge outsiders to make it to the last eight, the 2004 winners stunned Russia in the last group game and then scored twice – without their inspiration skipper – against Germany in the quarter-finals.

UNDERACHIEVERS – NETHERLANDS

Group B or the “Group of Death’ was always going to be tough but everyone expected Netherlands to reach atleast the last four if not the finals. The 2010 World Cup finalists came into the Championships with virtually the same squad that was present in South Africa but yet they failed to deliver. The team showed no unity at all with every player playing for himself rather than the team. In the end, the Dutch ended at the bottom of the group with no points on the board.

WORST CHOKERS – RUSSIA

Russia came into the tournament as the favourites in Group A, and they made the best possible start with a win (4-1) and a draw (1-1) in their first two matches. With a point needed from their final group game against Greece, they were surely going through to the last eight. But they choked badly and lost 1-0 to the 2004 champions, which saw them drop down to third – from the top spot – in the group table and that meant they were going back home.

BEST MATCH – GERMANY 1-2 ITALY

Although this tournament has thrown up many great games to watch, the semi-final clash between Germany and Italy was a great game for the neutrals. Germany were the favourites to defeat Italy and progress to the finals, Mario Balotelli struck twice to give Italy a shock two goal lead in the first half. The second half had more end-to-end action and the game could have gone either way but Cesare Prandelli’s men held on to a 2-1 victory and made the final.

WORST MATCH – CROATIA 0-1 SPAIN

UEFA EURO 2012 has had very few matches which were boring or not entertaining, and the Croatia-Spain game was one of them. The final Group C game had a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs but Spain -who started the game without a striker – made it an one side affair by keeping possession with no real threat or penetration. Croatia had a couple of chances in the second half but Spain tired their opponents by keeping the ball and went on to score a late winner.

SHOCK OF THE TOURNAMENT – NETHERLANDS 0-1 DENMARK

There have been quite a few upsets throughout the tournament but this one was perhaps the biggest of them all. Everyone expected the Dutch to perform well in Poland/Ukraine but they were shocked in the first game itself. Netherlands completely dominated the possession and create a lot of chances but just failed to convert one of those chances. While on the other hand, the Danes had a very few chances but were very clinical and scored the only goal of the game in first half, which was enough in the end.

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

BEST PLAYER – ANDRES INIESTA (SPAIN)

In the team loaded full of superstars, Andres Iniesta is one of the most underrated player. His control of the ball, accurate passing and deft touches lifts him way ahead of his teammates.   The Barcelona midfielder was the spark that carried his team forward. He was a constant attacking threat for the opposition and with Spain playing without a true centre-forward his penetration and positioning in the last third was very important. Completely deserves the Golden Ball award.

WORST PLAYER – ARJEN ROBBEN (NETHERLANDS)

After coming from a poor season with Bayern Munich, everyone expected Arjen Robben to show his true colors for his country in Poland/Ukraine but it didn’t happen so. The former Real Madrid and Chelsea winger was a complete failure and at times was very selfish. His behavior was no good and his worst moment came when he was substituted off against Germany. Rather than cross the pitch and complete the substitution normally, he merely stepped over the nearest touchline, ripped his shirt off and walked angrily around the side of the pitch.

BEST MANAGER – CESARE PRANDELLI (ITALY)

This one was a tough choice but the former Fiorentina boss deserves credit for his work with Italy. He dragged a team made up of players past-their-peaks and misfits all the way to the final. He did this with a combination of tactical innovation and expert man-management. Reinvented Italy as an attractive, attacking team, and showed himself to be a thorougly decent man on and off the field.

BEST YOUNG PLAYER – MARIO BALOTELLI (ITALY)

Mario Balotelli was already hyped for his on-and-off field antics prior to the tournament, but he showed his real talent and class on the field with his performances in Poland/Ukraine. The Manchester City man was not so impressive in the first two games but scored a classic volley against Ireland in the last group game and then put in a solid performance against England in the quarter-finals. His real moment came against Germany in the semi-finals, when he displayed his true talent, potential and class and also scored both the goals that helped his side reach the final.

BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE – CRISTIANO RONALDO (PORTUGAL 2-1 NETHERLANDS)

After being heavily criticsed for his below-par performances in the first two games of the tournament against Germany and Denmark, the Real Madrid man came to life when it mattered the most. In the final group game against the Netherlands, Portugal needed a win to make it through and the former Manchester United star put in a man-of-the-match performance and scored twice which ensured his side won 2-1 after the Dutch had taken an early lead.

BEST GOAL – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (SWEDEN 2-0 FRANCE)

With Sweden already out of the tournament with defeats to Ukraine and England in their first two games, the Scandinavians were playing for pride in their final Group D game against France. The AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic was one of the stars of the tournament and he ended his tournament in style with an acrobatic volley past keeper Hugo Lloris from the edge of the area, which helped his side to a shocking 2-0 win.

BEST PENALTY – ANDREA PIRLO (ENGLAND 0-0 (2-4P) ITALY)

With Ricardo Montolivo already having missed one of Italy’s penalty during the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against England, the Juventus playmaker Andrea Prilo stepped up to the mark. With Joe Hart jumping around and making faces to put his opponent off, the former AC Milan midfielder causally chipped his spot-kick down the middle and completely fooled the Manchester City keeper who dived to his right.

BEST SAVE – IKER CASILLAS (CROATIA 0-1 SPAIN)

May not be the best save of the tournament, but surely was the most important one. Just after the interval, Luka Modric put in a cross from the outside of his right foot, which was perfectly met by the head of Ivan Rakitic from 6 yards, but the Real Madrid and Spain skipper produced a great reflex save to deny the Sevilla man from scoring the goal which could have knocked out the defending champions in the group stages itself.

BEST GOAL CELEBRATION – MARIO BALOTELLI (GERMANY 1-2 ITALY)

Having already scored the opener against Germany in the semi-finals, Mario Balotelli rifled the second past Manuel Neuer – which turned out to be the winner in the end – before running away towards the edge of the area, taking his jersey off and showing his upper body in Hulk style.

WORST MISS – CRISTIANO RONALDO (DENMARK 2-3 PORTUGAL)

With the Denmark-Portugal game finely balanced, the Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo had a glorious chance to gives his side 3-1 lead when he was one-on-one with the Danish goalkeeper Stephen Andersen.However, very unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, he placed his effort well wide of the right-hand post.

OTHER AWARDS

HIGHLIGHT OF THE TOURNAMENT – ENTERTAINING FINAL

Everyone expected the Spain-Italy final to be a cagey affair with both teams trying to keep the possession a lot and defend, but the it was anything but that. The game was an open, end-to-end affair with Spain – as expected – dominating the game with a lot of possession, but at the same time playing some attacking football and creating a lot of goal scoring chances. Italy, on the other hand, also had chances to score but they failed to do so. In the end, as the scoreline shows the final was an entertaining affair and the defending champions completely outclassed their opponents.

LOWLIGHT OF THE TOURNAMENT – RACISM AND UEFA FINES

Despite it being a good tournament played in the right manner generally, ugly incidents of racism reared their ugly heads at times. No place for this in society or the beautiful game. Another low point of the tournament was the ridiculous fines by UEFA. Most of the racist fans of various countries were fined way less than Nicklas Bendtner for showing the sponsors on his underpants.

BEST FANS – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Republic of Ireland didn’t give their fans much to cheer about in terms of performance or goals, but the travelling Irish fans created quite the noise at their side’s Group C games and at the same time were not involved in any trouble in and out of the stadium.

BEST TATTOO – DANIELE DE ROSSI

While most of the footballers opt to ink their wives’ or children’s names, tribal symbols or pair of angel wings on their skins, Daniele de Rossi’s road-sign design tattoo to leave his opponents in no doubt as to what is in store was by far the best tattoo and a true innovation up to which the rest of the football world show now be aiming to live.

WORST HAIRSTYLE – RAUL MIERELES

The Portugal and Chelsea midfielder’s pathetically scruffy skull-fuzz, stuck halfway between a total shave and a Mohican with the style points of neither, combine with his off-putting wall of tattoos on his whole body put him only one step away from the ‘Derelicte’ range of homeless fashion as invented by Will Ferrell’s Mugatu in ‘Zoolander’.

BIGGEST GAFFE – RUSSIA DAY CELEBRATED IN WARSAW

Biggest blunded was by the person who allowed 20,000 Russia fans to march through Warsaw to celebrate ‘Russia Day’. That’s 20,000 Russians marching through the Polish capital. What could possibly go wrong? It resulted in 183 arrests in the biggest incidence of hooliganism for decades.

Top 5 Goals Of UEFA EURO 2012

The European Championships in Poland/Ukraine have come to an end with Spain creating history by successfully defending their crown by defeating Italy 4-0 in the final. A total of 76 goals have been scored by the 16 teams that took part in the competition and here’s our pick of the top five goals.

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden 2-0 France)

Sweden were already out of the tournament and were just playing for some lost pride against France in the final game in Group D. Sebastian Larsson crossed from the right for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who twisted superbly to dispatch a flying volley past Hugo Lloris from the edge of the area.

2. Sami Khedira (Germany 4-2 Greece)

The Real Madrid midfielder timed his run perfectly to meet Jerome Boateng’s cross on the volley and smash the ball past Michalis Sifakis to restore Germany’s advantage, after Georgios Samaras had shockingly equalised for Greece.

3. Mario Balotelli (Germany 1-2 Italy)

Ricardo Montolivo looked for Balotelli following a Germany corner, his ball over the top evading Philipp Lahm. The Manchester City striker sped away from his pursuers to rifle a shot into the top corner for finish every bit as emphatic as his first of the match.

4. Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland 1-1 Russia)

Poland broke quickly down the right and Jakub Blaszczykowski cut inside Yuri Zhirkov, level with the edge of the area, and unleased a fiercely struck shot with his left boot which found the top left-hand corner.

5. Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia 4-1 Czech Republic)

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker took just nine minutes to make his mark on UEFA EURO 2012 after coming off the substitutes’ bench. He cut in from the left-hand side of the penalty are and rifled an efford into the top left-hand corner to seal an impressive victory for his side over the Czech Republic.

All Set For The Quarter-Finals

After 12 days and 24 matches, we are down to the knockout stages of the UEFA EURO 20012, and for the remaining eight teams, the prospect of winning the competition has edged that little bit closer.

Defending champions Spain are one team among the eight that qualified from their groups for a place in the quarter finals. Among the eight teams, six – Germany, Ialy, France, Spain, Greece and Czech Republic – are former winners. The other two – Portugal and England are also in the competition that will resume on Thursday when the Portuguese take on the Czech Republic in Warsaw.

Poland’s National Stadium in Warsaw will host the first quarter final between Czech Republic and Portugal – two teams who bounced back impressively from opening losses to win their remaining group games. The Czech, who topped Group A after registering wins over Greece and co-host Poland, will start as underdogs against Portugal – who defeated Netherlands in their final group game to qualify.

The second quarter final sees Germany take on Greece in Gdansk. Joachim Low’s men will look to continue their 100% winning run in Poland/Ukraine – they have won all their matches in the qualifying also – and seal a place in the last four, when they face Greece on Friday. But Fernando Santos’ men know a thing or two about springing a surprise as few expected them to qualify at the expense of Russia and also very few expected them to shock Portugal and win the championship back in 2004.

The match on Saturday sees world and European champions Spain take on France in the third quarter final in Donetsk. The last time these two teams met in a major competition, Les Bleus came from behind to eliminate the Spaniards in the last 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. That was the last time Spain suffered a knockout defeat. Spain topped their group following a nervy and less than impressive display against Croatia in their final game, while France were defeated by Sweden and had to settle for a second place in Group D.

The last quarter final in Kiev on Sunday is between Group D winners England an Italy. England exceeded all expectations by winning the group and have never reached the semi finals of the European Championships on foriegn soil and now are just one step away from it following back-to-back wins over Sweden and Ukraine. Italy, on the other, are unbeaten in the tournament so far and have made it through a tough Group C and are known for peaking at the right.

QUARTER FINALS

Thursday, 21 June 2012
Czech Republic v Portugal @ National Stadium, Warsaw

Friday, 22 June 2012
Germany v Greece @ PGE Arena, Gdansk

Saturday, 23 June 2012
Spain v France @ Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Sunday, 24 June 2012
England v Italy @ Olympic Stadium, Kiev

SEMI FINALS

Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Czech Republic/Portugal v Spain/France @ Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Thursday 28 June 2012
Germany/Greece v England/Italy @ National Stadium, Warsaw

FINAL

Sunday 1 July 2012
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2 @ Olympic Stadium, Kiev

England 1-0 Ukraine – Player Ratings

Wayne Rooney made his return to the England squad in style, scoring the winning goal for the Three Lions in a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine.  Here, we take a look at how the players fared at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday night.

ENGLAND

Joe Hart – 7
Hart was rarely tested during the whole game as his defenders in front of him did their job well, which restricted the co-hosts to shoot from distance and most of their shots were way off target. Hart did have to be alert to make a fantastic one-handed save from a swerving Konoplyanka effort and managed to get a hand on Devic’s goal-bound shot, which gave Terry enough time to make a goal-line clearance.

Glen Johnson – 6
The Liverpool full back is often criticized for being poor defensively and he nothing in the game to change that. Konoplyanka ha d a very fun time of the right of the England defence against Johnson and cut inside him too easily, which allowed the Ukrainian winger to swing in several dangerous crosses and fire off a few shots from range. As an attacking threat, Johnson was muted and was unable to create sort of impact on the game.

John Terry – 7.5
Terry was the rock at the heart at the England defence. He played crucial part in maintaining a clean sheet for his side with a fantastic goal line clearance to deny Devic. He was on hand to make several vital interceptions and was literally unbeatable in the air.

Joleon Lescott – 7
Like Terry, Lescott was literally unbeatable in the air and headed away many Ukraine crosses in his own box. He is developing a decent partnership with Terry in the heart of the England but at times he was beaten for pace and looked slightly slow on the ground. His real test of ability will come against more tougher oppositions in the knockout stages of the competition.

Ashley Cole – 6.5
The Chelsea defender was troubled by Ukraine’s wing play and was battling Yarmolenko throughout the game. Although Cole managed to win some battles, he allowed his direct opponent too much time and space to cut in and shoot on several occasions. The left-back did manage to get forward on few occasion and almost scored his first ever England goal with a half-volley which was well saved by Pyatov.

James Milner (Sub Off 70′) – 6
Milner is only in the side because of his high workrate and because he provides  defensive cover for the suspect Johnson. Going forward Milner is never going be a threat like Ashley Young or Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, so its like asking too much from him to be a creative outlet for England. Nonetheless, Miner did his duties very well and helped Johnson a lot, but he was unable to offer much going forward.

Scott Parker – 7.5
Parker was one of the best England players on the field. He was brave and strong in challenge and literally put his whole body on the line to stop Ukraine. He earned raucous cheers for blocking a cross with his face in the closing stages. He may not be the most technically gifted player in the England squad but gives his everything when playing for his country.

Steven Gerrard – 8
The England captain was once again influential in guiding his country to victory. He led his side from the front and was at times seen shouting instructions to his players which kept them disciplined and organised. He was also dangerous when he got forward and one of his forward forays eventually led to England’s goal, after he burst past Selin on the right and drilled a cross for Rooney to head in.

Ashley Young – 7
Like the previous game, Young start on the left but this time he was more effective and a threat for the Ukrainian defence. He often used his pace well to beat Gusev before sending in quality crosses for his forwards. His crosses were of top quality with the right amount of dip, swerve and power which made them a nightmare to deal with. He was unfortunate not to get an assist to his name.

Wayne Rooney (Sub Off 87′) – 7 
Most of the pre-match focus was on the return of Wayne Rooney to the England starting XI and what kind of impact he would have. The United forward answered that question by scoring winner. He rusty at times and missed a glorious chance from 6 yards in the first half but he was a constant threat upfront for the Ukrainian defence.

Danny Welbeck (Sub Off 82′)- 6.5
Welbeck was selected ahead of Carroll to start this game because his understanding with his United teammates Rooney and Young. The young striker was unable to make much of a telling contribution in the game, although his hold-up play was good and his understanding with Rooney looked promising.

Subs

Theo Walcott (Sub On 70′) – 3
Came on as a substitute in the second half for Milner and with 20 minutes to play against the tired Ukrainian defence, Walcott had no impact on the game at all. He failed to create any sort of impact and hardly touched the ball.

Andy Carroll (Sub On 82′) – N/A

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Sub On 87′) – N/A

UKRAINE

Andriy Paytov – 4
It was a night to forget for the Ukrainian keeper as his horrendous mistake led to Rooney scoring the winner. He looked very nervy in the first half but improved after conceding the goal in the second half and made a couple of smart saves to deny England scoring more goals.

Oleg Gusev – 7
Gusev put in a tireless shift down the right side for the co-hosts and managed do very well combining his defensive duty of marking his pacey opponent in Ashley Young and at the same time providing an attacking outlet for his side down the right.

Yevhen Khacheridi – 7
Khacheridi had the huge task of dealing with Wayne Rooney and managed to put in a respectable performance for his side. Although he was often outmuscled by Rooney, he still managed to keep the talismanic striker at bay for majority of the game with his tight marking.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy – 7
Rakitskiy was a stable presence at the back for Ukraine and his brilliant tackles kept the English forwards on their toes. The 22-year-old defender showed great maturity and character in leading his backline and was also an attacking threat from set-pieces.

Yevhen Selin – 6
Selin was a constant presence on the left and troubled Johnson for most of the game with his attacking runs. He was given a lot of space by the Liverpool defender and happily used it to create several good opportunities for his strikers. However, he was responsible for England’s winner as he allowed Gerrard to go easily past him in the build-up.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk – 6.5
The Ukraine captain managed to break up a few of England’s counter-attacks with his excellent reading of the game and made a few well-timed challenges. He was guilty of occasionally wasting possession with a few misplaced passes but otherwise had a decent game for his side.

Denys Garmash (Sub Off 78′) – 5
Garmash was the worst player on the night. His final ball in threatening situations was poor which resulted in gifting possession to England during promising Ukrainian attacks. He did not seem to have the hunger to win the game and let down his teammates with his lack of effort.

Andriy Yarmolenko – 7
The 22-year-old Ukrainian proved a tricky customer for the English defence and often had Lescott and Terry on the back foot with his pace and quick foot work. But at times he made the wrong choice by having a go at goal from long range when a simple pass to his teammate would have been a better choice.

Marko Devic (Sub Off 70′) – 7
Devic was very nearly the hero for Ukraine with his effort which was cleared off the line by Terry. However, replays showed that the ball had crossed the line and England were lucky to lead. He made some smart off-the-ball moves and gave Terry and Lescott something to worry about throughout whole the game.

Yevhen Konoplyanka – 8
Konoplyanka was Ukraine’s best player of the game. His direct running caused Johnson problems throughout the game and not only managed to create numerous decent goal-scoring opportunities for his team, but also hollowed out a few chances for himself with his quick feet. He came very close to scoring with a superb dipping and swerving long range shot which forced a brilliant reaction save from Hart.

Artem Milevskiy (Sub Off 77′) – 7
Milevskiv offered a very physical presence upfront and held the ball up well for his team. His unselfish play also led to him creating several opportunities for his team but was unable to really threaten the England goal himself.

Subs

Andriy Shevchenko (Sub On 70′) – 6
Probably made his last appearance for his country but was unable to go out with a bang. He recieved a huge reception from not only the home fans but also the England supporters when he came on in the second half. He was not able to create a much of an impact and didnt get many chances to score as Ukraine’s midfield tired out towards the end of the game.

Bohdan Butko (Sub on 77′) – N/A

Serhiy Nazarenko (Sub On 78′) – N/A

Predicting England v Ukraine And Sweden v France

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)