A few weeks ago, I wrote that Sweden coach Erik Hamren would be hoping that not too much would rest on his side needing to secure victory against France in their final Euro 2012 group game.
Well, he must be one relieved man, then, because it means absolutely diddly squat… although probably not for the reasons he’d envisaged.
Thanks to Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, Sweden’s tournament is now essentially over but for the formality of completing their Group D commitments.
However, France are still very much alive and will be eager to end the group stages with a convincing win that should ensure they finish top of the pile and secure a quarter-final against Italy.
France possess a fabulous array of attacking talent including Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery, Jeremy Menez and Hatem Ben Arfa – the list is endless.
While he may not yet have scored in the tournament itself, Benzema created both of France’s goals against Ukraine and lurked with menacing intent in the opening match against England.
Well, not endless perhaps, but you’ll appreciate there are lots of them and far too many for me to name.
Another one I will name, though, is Karim Benzema, who’ll be desperate to score his first goal of the competition against Sweden, having taken more shots at Euro 2012 than any other player at the time of writing.
At present, bwin make him an even money to finally hit the back of the net on Tuesday night.
Benzema has had a tricky ascent to his current lofty position as the focal point of the French attack. Tipped for greatness at the age of 19, he was dubbed ‘Le Phénomène’ and ‘L’extraterrestre’ in his homeland.
What followed was a £25 million transfer from Lyon to Real Madrid and a particularly disappointing first season at the Bernabeu which eventually led to his omission from France’s 2010 World Cup squad by Raymond Domenech, a man with whom he never saw eye to eye and not just because he was significantly taller.
Benzema has become the leader of Real’s attack, scoring an impressive 21 goals in La Liga last season as well as a further 11 in the Champions League.
His form for the national side is also good, having scored two goals and made another in France’s final Euro 2012 warm-up game against Estonia.
And while he may not yet have scored in the tournament itself, he created both of France’s goals against Ukraine and lurked with menacing intent in the opening match against England.
Considering Sweden’s somewhat porous defence and Benzema’s eagerness to get off the mark, it’s not inconceivable for him to score two or more goals in the game, something he did on nine occasions last season for club and country.
bwin offer odds of 5/1 on this outcome, meaning new customers placing their free £20 bet for registering on it would net £150 if successful.
And if Benzema does deliver at the double, that would almost certainly see France sail into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
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