While match day 1 saw one of the host nations open up to an action-packed draw, the other host nation has to wait until match day 4 to test their opponent. In a group D match up that sees Ukraine kick off against Sweden, most people would think that Sweden is the stronger side, but the host nation will have the crowd wholly on their back, which could make things a bit interesting. Unlike the other host nation, Poland, most of Ukraine’s roster plays their club football domestically, meaning the Ukrainian Premier League. This lack of real international experience could hurt the team significantly, but on the other hand it could mean they have an unmatched sense of team chemistry considering 21 out of the 23 men on the Ukraine side play in their domestic Premier League.
The Swede’s, on the other hand, are sporting a roster that not only shows their presence on the international scene, but their talent as well. Sweden has players who represent clubs from all over the world, a stark contrast from Ukraine’s domestic density. Depending on the formation that Sweden chooses, the two likely forwards will be Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Markus Rosenberg, both of which will be hard to deal with all day. The midfield is also looking quite attractive for Sweden as Olympique Marseille man Kim Kallstrom and Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson look to feed the ball up to their potent attack. The defense may raise a few questions marks as it is marred with age on one side, and inexperience on the other. Olof Mellberg, now 34, will have to be a leader and keep the defense organized, otherwise it could be a longer than expected day for Andreas Isaksson in net.
The one standout Ukraine star that everyone will surely recognize and respect will likely be found terrorizing, or at least attempting to terrorize, the Swedish defense and goalkeeper. His name is Andriy Shevchenko and, while he may be aged, he is a formidable attacker in front of net and quite honestly, any distance further back. Another name you might recognize from the Ukraine squad can be found in the midfield, and his name is Anatoliy Tymoshchuk who plays for Bayern Munich in Germany. Both Shevchenko and Tymoshchuk will be looking to link up, and at the same time, inspire link ups between their younger comrades. With that kind of veteran leadership, in front of a raucous crowd, the possibilities are endless and not one person should count Ukraine out.
Bovada.lv has Ukraine slightly favored at home as they sit at +145 on the moneyline. Sweden is currently at +195 on the moneyline, and a draw is not exactly expected as it is sitting at +225 on the moneyline.
My pick is going to have to be with Sweden, I think they have a more impressive all around team. While Ukraine has the chemistry and crowd behind them, it is not going to be enough to outclass the Swedish midfield and defense. And as far as their attack goes, I think that department speaks for itself. While I do think Ukraine may get a goal, just like Poland did, I think Sweden will be able to pull off a 1 or even 2 goal victory.
Pick: Sweden to win (+195)