Ukraine Vs. England, 2012 European Championships: The Game Of The Tournament?

Danny Welbeck of England celebrates scoring their third goal with Theo Walcott during the UEFA EURO 2012 group D match between Sweden and England at The Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

England aren't pretty, but they're certainly effective and their goals are nice when they come. Ukraine are going to fight for 90 minutes with a loud crowd behind them. It won't be sexy, but it will be intense.

Has Roy Hodgson ever seen a situation where he can play for a draw that he didn't like? The Three Lions will be heading to the quarterfinals of the European Championships if they can manage a point against Ukraine, but that's much more difficult than it sounds. Andriy Shevchenko appears to have acquired the body of the 28-year-old version of himself, the crowd in Donetsk will be intense, and the co-hosts will be fighting with the knowledge that they need a win to progress.

England have gone with different forward tandems in each of their matches, and they're going to choose a different one again. Danny Welbeck played with Ashley Young behind him against France, then next to Andy Carroll against Sweden as Young was moved out wide. Tuesday's game marks the return of Wayne Rooney from suspension, and he'll almost certainly slot into Hodgson's team in some way, shape or form.


Last game: England 3-2 Sweden, France 2-0 Ukraine


Where Rooney actually fits in is anyone's guess, though. He can play as a striker with an attacking midfielder behind him, with a strike partner, or as a No. 10 behind a striker. Rooney's versatility is what makes him so valuable. He's spent the last year and a half primarily as a No. 10, however, and he performed poorly in the last big game where he was selected as a central striker: Manchester United's big loss to Manchester City late in the Premier League season.

Also not helping the case for Rooney as a center forward is England's lack of quality on the wings and how well Young played as a left winger against Sweden. James Milner has had two poor games for England and Stewart Downing has had a poor year in both a Liverpool and an England shirt. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain makes for a good energetic sub, but he spent a good portion of his start against France simply running into people. He's probably not too many years off being first choice for England, but the time for that isn't now.

On both form and ability -- not to mention team chemistry -- Hodgson is probably best served playing Rooney behind Welbeck with Young and Theo Walcott on either side of him, but that's not Hodgson's only decent option. What he actually does is anyone's guess.

Ukraine fielded the same team against Sweden and France, and considering the results, they'll probably play that same team again. They lost to France, but there was certainly nothing wrong with the team that they fielded, and they looked like the more dangerous side in the opening minutes of the second half before France's backbreaking goal. Their most disappointing player in that France game was probably Andriy Yarmolenko, who is extremely dangerous in most situations and virtually undroppable. He was followed up closely by Andriy Voronin, who didn't deal well with the weather delay and had to come off at halftime. Don't expect duplicate performances from either player.

The end of Anatoliy Tymoshchuk

Whether England's No. 10 is Wayne Rooney or Ashley Young ... oh god, poor Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Once one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, Tymoshchuk is now 33 years old and not terribly mobile. He had a solid game against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who, while incredibly brilliant, isn't exactly what most people would call 'active'. He's the type of second striker/attacking midfielder who doesn't move that much, but makes up for it with unbelievable touch, vision and creativity.

Rooney and Young are basically the antithesis of this. They don't have the touch and vision of Ibrahimovic -- especially in Young's case -- but they're extremely active. Their off the ball runs and stamina are their main assets as attacking midfielders, and if you're a defensive midfielder tasked with tracking them, your day is going to suck. Once upon a time, Tymoshchuk was an elite defensive midfielder, but he was a bit exposed by the fluid and mobile France front four. Calling Hodgson's England 'fluid in attack' should elicit laughter, but they certainly are mobile.

Yellow cards, yellow cards everywhere

This match is going to be intense, and neither of these teams are averse to physical play. That's terribly convenient, considering that the referee for the match isn't averse to yellow cards. Viktor Kassai of Hungary previously officiated the match between Italy and Spain in this tournament, during which he handed out seven bookings. In the Euro 2012 playoff match between Estonia and Ireland, which the Irish won 4-0, he handed out six bookings, including two red cards. Milner, Young, Tymoshchuk and Yevhen Selin are facing a suspension if they pick up a yellow.

Projected Ukraine Lineup (4-1-3-2): Andriy Pyatov; Yevhen Selin, Yevhen Khacheridi, Taras Mikhalik, Oleh Husyev; Anatoliy Tymoshchuk; Yevhen Konoplyanka; Serhiy Nazarenko, Andriy Yarmolenko; Andriy Voronin, Andriy Shevchenko

Projected England Lineup (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Glen Johnson; Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard; Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott; Danny Welbeck

football formations

Monty the Psychic Metal Disk says: All goals will be scored via elbows in a 1-1 draw.

Game Date/Time: Tuesday, June 19th, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local

Venue: Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine

TV: ESPN (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), ITV 1 (U.K.), TSN (Canada)

Online: ESPN3

We'll have live coverage of both of Tuesday's games simultaneously in our Euro 2012, Group D Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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