The dust will barely have settled on England’s game against France in Donetsk when the other opening Euro 2012 Group D encounter kicks off in Kiev between Ukraine and Sweden.
Both teams will be eager to begin their campaigns with a victory and in bwin’s 3way football betting market, the co-hostsare slight favourites at 3/2 for the win, with Sweden at 37/20 and odds of 9/4 for the draw.
The history between the two sides is curious, in that there is barely any history to speak of. The two nations have only locked metaphorical horns on three occasions and never in a competitive international.
Of those three games, Ukraine have come out on top twice and Sweden just once, although that did come in the most recent encounter back in August 2011, when a last-minute goal from former Sunderland forward Tobias Hysen brought about a 1-0 win for the Swedes.
Coming through a tough qualification group featuring Holland, Erik Hamren’s side have followed up with four straight victories, including wins over Iceland and Serbia last week.
Although Sweden were able to secure victory on Ukrainian soil on that occasion (some of the most fertile chernozemic soils in the world, I might add), one would assume that home advantage at a major tournament should give Ukraine an even greater edge than under normal circumstances.
But it appears the co-hosts are going to need every extra bit of help they can get considering their less than impressive preparation for the tournament.
Wins this year against Israel and Estonia were followed last week by two straight defeats at the hands of Austria and Turkey, with performances symptomatic of a team who have had to rely on nothing but ‘friendly’ internationals for the past two years.
On top of that, ten of their players were struck down with a stomach virus prior to the clash with Turkey, although they are expected to be back up to full strength for the big kick-off.
Sweden, by contrast, have had a far more productive time of it. Coming through a tough qualification group featuring Holland, Erik Hamren’s side have followed up with four straight victories, including wins over Iceland and Serbia last week, making them a better bet for the win at 37/20.
In addition to his side’s strong form, Hamren will no doubt take even more comfort from the recent words of opposite number Oleh Blokhin.
Blokhin really let rip at his defence when he remarked: “We have problems related to both the central defenders and full-backs… figuratively speaking, our defenders do not even tackle properly.”
‘High praise’ indeed, and perhaps a reason to put money on Sweden not only winning the match but on there being over 2.5 goals in the game too.
At odds of 17/4, placing your free £25 bet for registering with bwin on this would land you £131.25…and land Blokhin in significantly hot water. Ouch.
Recommended bet: Sweden to beat Ukraine @ 37/20
Outside punt: Sweden to beat Ukraine in a game of over 2.5 goals @ 17/4
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Euro 2012 odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting