Today’s Featured Group on the Details’ Euro 2012 Preview: Group D
The Nation’s Predicted Order Of Finish:
The Nation admits to being torn between England and Sweden for the 2nd qualifying spot. England will be missing Wayne Rooney for their first 2 games due to suspension, which happen to be vs. France and Sweden, their top competition in the group. Add injury problems to Frank Lampard and Darren Bent, a newly-installed manager in Roy Hodgson and the constant controversy surrounding John Terry, this could be a problematic tourney for the Three Lions. France, after a disastrous 2010 World Cup, looks ready for a rebound in International competition. Sweden has the best front man in Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the group, and he’ll be key for the team. Ukraine is co-host for the tournament, but that won’t be enough to help advance further.
Key Players To Watch:
John Terry – D – England/Chelsea: The firestorm over his alleged racist comments to Anton Ferdinand has been a running storyline for months now. It’s pretty much well accepted by everybody that Rio Ferdinand (Anton’s brother) was not selected for the squad because of the Terry situation. Will this be a problem in the locker room?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – MF – England/Arsenal and Theo Walcott – MF – England/Arsenal: With Wayne Rooney suspended and Andy Carroll just plain sucking, Arsenal’s young lions might be needed to provide some offensive spark. The 23 year old Walcott might start on the right side, and with his blazing speed, could be a difference maker. Oxlade-Chamberlain, aka The Ox, is all of 19 years old and might be used as a super sub. He could play out wide and in the center. He constantly improved throughout the season for Arsenal and England might be reaping its benefits.
Yann M’Villa – MF – France/Rennes: The next great French holding midfielder, continuing the tradition of Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele, the two players he has been compared to the most. Set for a big money after the tournament, look for M’Villa to be the spine of the midfield the way the great Vieira and Makelele were.
Samir Nasri – MF – France/Machester City: Nasri will have the task of being the playmaker for France. Silky smooth and a great crosser, expect Nasri to embrace the role he has long craved.
Franck Ribéry – F – France/Bayern Munich: Ribery speeding down the flanks is a sight to watch. Expect a lot of it, as he showcases his great dribbling and goal scoring skills.
Sebastian Larsson – MF – Sweden/Sunderland: One of the best set piece takers in the world. If Sweden has a set piece within 20 yards of goal, expect Larsson to be standing over the ball. Then wait for something special off that right foot of his.
Zlatan Ibrahimović – F – Sweden/AC Milan: One of the best strikers in the world, and at6’5″ and well over 200 lbs, he is gigantic for soccer. A prolific scorer and winner at club level, at one point he won 8 league championships in a row while playing and starring for 5 different teams across that span. And these were not just ANY teams; these were Ajax, Inter, Juventus, Barcelona and Milan. Immaturity is always his biggest problem, however. But expect a wonder goal or two form the Zlatan in Euro 2012.
Andriy Yarmolenko – MF – Ukraine/Dynamo Kyiv: Ukraine’s top young gun, he could be moving out of the Ukrainian Premier League this summer. An impressive tournament just might seal that.
Andriy Shevchenko – F – Ukraine/Dynamo Kyiv: The greatest Ukrainian player ever post USSR-days, Shevchenko is now 35 and nowhere near the player he was almost a decade ago. He has admitted to holding off on retirement so he can participate in this tournament in his homeland; the question now is will he actually get to play?