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Optimistic England face most intimidating test yet

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David Bond | 22:52 UK time, Monday, 18 June 2012

Euro 2012: Donetsk

Ukraine has spent a staggering £3.5bn on hosting Euro 2012. And after encountering so many problems on their five-year journey to staging the tournament, there is a huge desire here not to join co-hosts Poland in leaving the party early.

This young nation's path to political stability is still a work in progress but leaders here have called on the whole country to unite behind the team.

With so much riding on Tuesday's final Group D game against England, the atmosphere in the Donbass Arena is likely to be the most intimidating Roy Hodgson's men have faced so far. It will certainly be noisier than when they got their campaign under way with the 1-1 draw against France last Monday.

Donbass Arena, Donetsk

The Donbass Arena in Donetsk was paid for by Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov. Photo: Reuters

Donetsk's position on the far eastern side of Ukraine means that, culturally and politically, it tends to look east and towards Russia. That won't stop the gleaming new stadium - paid for by Rinat Akhmetov, the country's wealthiest man - feeling like a hotbed of Ukrainian nationalism against England.

Hodgson said in his pre-match news conference that he wasn't unduly worried about how his players would handle the atmosphere. He argued that many were used to playing in crucial Champions League matches on some of Europe's biggest stages.

But with England's fans likely to be heavily outnumbered - police estimate official travelling support could be as low as 3,000 - there is a danger the match could become a flashpoint if the co-hosts are knocked out.

Assistant chief constable Andy Holt, head of the British policing operation in Ukraine, said: "We always knew that if England ended up in the last game of the group stage playing Ukraine and both need something out of the game, it would be a very tense atmosphere.

"This will be the most challenging operation in Ukraine thus far and we'll be working really hard with our Ukrainian colleagues to do all we can to make sure England supporters are safe and appropriately policed."

The British police and the Football Association are also worried Russian fans could complicate the security plans for the match by wearing England shirts, making it harder to segregate the supporters and identify the cause of any possible disturbances in the stands.

Despite all these concerns, the England players looked extremely relaxed as they took a stroll around the pitch at the Donbass Arena on Monday night.

In stark contrast to the atmosphere during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the players seem happy and united here.

Asked about the team spirit, captain Steven Gerrard emphasised the "professional" attitude being adopted by all the team. But there has also been talk of quiz nights, meals out in Krakow's delightful restaurants and players enjoying each other's company in a way that simply hasn't happened in previous tournaments.

All that could change very quickly if results go the wrong way - and the two goals conceded against Sweden suggests this team are not about to become world-beaters.

But, given where Hodgson started from, things could hardly have gone much better. Reach the quarter-finals and most people will reflect on a successful first tournament in charge.

For Ukraine, there's so much more at stake.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    The first time Ukraine played an international match at the Donbass Arena was when they lost to Greece in the second leg of the play-off for the 2010 world cup. There was no atmosphere, they lost, as they did against France on Friday, and the greed that puts people like Rinat Akhmetov in the position that they are in meant that many fans were priced out of it, with a crowd of around 31,000.
    I hope the English football fans get what we want and win the match. I hope the English press don't get what they want, but then I'm sure they'd be happy to lead a few England fans into a heavy beating from someone in Donetsk. The stories are probably half-written already.

  • Comment number 2.

    Before the tournament lots of people were worried and scared about violence, racism, hooliganism, etc in Poland and Ukraine, but especially in Ukraine. Yet all violence, racism and hooliganism has happened in Poland, whereas the matches in Ukraine have been peaceful with fans from lots of countries partying and having fun together. I wouldn't be too worried about the safety of England fans tonight.

  • Comment number 3.

    Engalnd will be calm, but they will come out victorious. Come England.

  • Comment number 4.

    England should be able to deal with the atmosphere. If they can't, I'd have to wonder how they ever thought they could deal with the pressure of reaching the later stages of a tournament. Tension and crowd hostility are to be expected.

    England should also win. Ukraine are a limited side, and an ageing one in places. A third game in 8 days might be one too many for legs such as Shevchenko's. Given how average Italy look, it's important to win to try to meet them in the QF as well. England have a good chance of doing that.

  • Comment number 5.

    #4, Italy look average?

    I believe England will progress only to lose on Saturday, to whoever the opposition is. Hope I'm wrong. Oh and Wellbeck will start alongside his United teammates, for that very reason. Germany Portugal final!!

  • Comment number 6.

    England need to keep their heads, and Rooney in particular must show he's matured and can take the heat. It'll be like the Sweden game, two average teams going at like it's an end-of-season relegation six-pointer. Think Wigan - Blackburn; that's the standard. And it will be a much better viewing than Spain - Croatia!!

    Let's hope the officials are strong, and we don't have England going out to a poor decision, another 'goal that was that wasn't', or Ukraine getting a dodgy penalty!!

    But you can see it happening if England don't put the game away in the first hour.

  • Comment number 7.

    I know I shouldn't over generalise, but the fans and teams seemed almost apathetic upon going down to France. An early goal would kill the atmosphere and, with no violence observed thus far in Ukraine and see no reasons to suspect any.

    http://hitting-the-target.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Comment number 8.

    BBC Editors and Fans, someone please help me here. It is appearing to me that BBC punditry means being anti England or talking down one of the most hard-to-beat team in the world. The 4 - 1 loss to Germany helped by the disallowing of Lampard's goal aside, I can hardly recall a match in which England lost by more than 1 goal. Yet every "Pundit" that writes for BBC must rank England low. I am not English; I am an African but I think England has the grit that most teams don't have. This writer has just fallen into that trap and I will jsut point out three faux-pas assertions:

    1. "It will certainly be noisier than when they got their campaign under way with the 1-1 draw against France last Monday."
    What did you expect, France to roll over and show their underbelly? I think drawing with France is neither defeat not drawing with Malta, San Marino or Vanuatu. Show some respect, please.

    2. "......and the two goals conceded against Sweden suggests this team are not about to become world-beaters."
    So who are world beater, Spain I know you would say. C'mon, they won Euro2008 and SouthAfrica 2012 by 1 goal each, after losing to Switzerland of all teams; they had to huff and puff to beat Croatia after been run around by Luka Modric of the ENGLISH Premiership.

    "But with England's fans likely to be heavily outnumbered.....there is a danger the match could become a flashpoint if the co-hosts are knocked out"
    This is one comment I don't understand the meaning of. The fans are not police. So you expect them to be in larger number so they can get into a brawl? I think the author brought so many things (Ukrainian history, nationalism, ethnic orientation of Donetsk, etc,) together in this article and could not tie them together.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ukraine have been exceptional hosts. Congrats to them .

  • Comment number 10.

    @ #4

    Italy average .. no way , they pass the ball way better than most teams at euro 2012 look at there pass sucess rate, also there defence and keeper are solid. di natalie is a constant threat and jt & jl would strugle to keep hold of him for 90 minutes, not forgeting mad cap MB.

    But saying that ENGLAND have a chance though i think it may go down to pens, and then its a lottery to see who wins.

    As for tonight i think we will win quite easy as ukraine are what you call avarage, dont even think they would have qulified if they was not hosts.

    SPAIN TO WIN IT just out of 3rd gear everyone else looks like there gona blow a gasket

  • Comment number 11.

    Hello my friends. I am fan from Poland. The Ukraine is great country and the people living there are guest and open. So I have hope that u will win today match agaist England, and u will finnaly go out the group and fight in the quarter-final. BONNE CHANCE my Ukraine friends!

  • Comment number 12.

    The players will be fine, most are used to it. A better question is who is the ref? How experienced is he? I hope whoever it is he starts to pull his yellow card out for cyncial fouls near the halfway line. Too many are going unpunished.

    Interesting tournament so far. Holland and Russia out. Spain were one goal away from elimination. Can't see anyone beating Germany, but you never know, it's a tournament, not a league.

  • Comment number 13.

    @8 - I agree with you. There's far too much pessimism and negativity from the UK media and some of their fans.

    This month we're 3-1-0, scored 6 (without our best striker), conceded 3 (one of which was a fluke own goal after a freekick that was blasted into the wall resulted in some pinball), we have a brand new manager and an inury list as long as my arm. Despite all this, we're still unbeaten against Belgium, Norway, France and Sweden.

    We may not make 800 passes in a game, or maintain 70-80% possession, but neither of those things win games.

    We were flat-out robbed against Germany in 2010. Had Lampard's goal been given, England wouldn't have resorted to all-out attack, so wouldn't have been caught out by counter-attacks twice.

    And in other tournaments this century, we often go out on penalties. That means that for 120 minutes we have matched whichever "technically superior" team has knocked us out. And, as Messi and Ronaldo both showed this season, even the best players in the world can miss a penalty. It's a lottery.

    We can beat any team in the world on our day. Our results and our FIFA ranking prove that.

    And whilst we like to talk up other teams, the bottom line is that lots of the "big teams" have abysmal results at times. A few people on this page are talking up Italy. Their results from the past 24 months have been shocking.

    After a lucky draw with New Zealand (a dive won the Italians a penalty), they lost to Slovakia and were out in the first round. And in the three games before Euro 2012, they failed to score in any of them, lost to the USA and were THRASHED by Russia, 3-0.

    I don't recall England ever suffering a result like that. As you say, with the exception of our 4-1 loss at the last world cup, I have to cast my memory back to 1993 to remember us losing a game by 2 clear goals. So all this talk of us being "second rate" is nonsense.

  • Comment number 14.

    Glad the players are coping with their hellish existence.

  • Comment number 15.

    Confident we can do it have faith in Hodgson and it is nice to have Rooney back for England, looks like we'll be facing Spain unless Sweden pull something off, but France Italy should be a cracker too, I'm sure will be the underdogs and written off as Croatia were but they gave a great performance last night so hopefully we can do the same, if we do end up losing I hope its to the winners and we can look back on a good tournament, only if we get past Ukraine first though.

  • Comment number 16.

    If England face an unduly hostile atmosphere to-night then the BBC and some journalists like you Mr. Bond must take some of the blame. Whilst acknowledging that there are many social, racial and political problems in Ukraine, the impression given by some of the reporting in the build up to the tournament is that everyboby who goes there runs a high risk of being either racially abused, physically assaulted or ripped off. I think some balance is called for.
    In this column you are at it again by suggesting that "there is a danger the match could become a flashpoint if the co-hosts are knocked out".
    If that happens then ok, report on it, but for heaven's sake stop speculating about it and stick to facts.

  • Comment number 17.

    I want England to win tonight, but there are still questions about their side.

    Trappatoni gets criticised for playing 4-4-2; it is an old and tired system commentators are saying. They don't have enough players in midfield to hold the ball, and so it makes it too easy for teams to get the ball back and press again.

    No-one is daring to say it, but isn't this exactly England's problem? Gerrard and Parker are protecting the back four, so when the ball breaks there is a huge whole between midfield and the forwards, inevitably filled by the opposition. When Gerrard does play further up the pitch we can see his quality, but he isn't up there enough.

    Given the lack of speed in Terry and the uncertainty of Lescott, England need to play 4-2-3-1. Bring in Phil Jones for Ashley Young, play Gerard ahead of Parker and Jones, with Welbeck and Oxalde left and right. Crucially, that means that when we win the ball, it can go forward to Gerrard, who can hold it up or pass forward to fast breaking midfielders or on to Rooney.

    Young and Walcott are good offensively, but too easily concede possesion, but will be great options to bring on. Milner could also be back up to Phil Jones, or even play there from the start (he has for Man City).

    England must as the better team control the play. As they showed against France and in the second half when Sweden upped thier game, they loose control of the game when they are under pressure in the 4-4-2 system. Yes, they got the result against Sweden at the end, but this was more individual flair than team structure.

  • Comment number 18.

    I expect the players will be able to cope with the atmosphere. It is effectively like an away fixture in the Champions League (or Europa League) which most of the squad will have experienced. I think it will be a close game and there will be a few goals.

  • Comment number 19.

    I wonder if the talk of a flashpoint is being ultra-cautious or whether there is any reason to think that things might get ugly.

    On another note, the stadiums used for this competition do look good. We know of a couple of teams that use them but will they all be getting good use once the tournament is over? To that end, I wonder how any legacy in South Africa has panned out.

  • Comment number 20.

    "meals out in Krakow's delightful restaurants"

    I bet they went to McDonald's & KFC

  • Comment number 21.

    @17. At 09:19 19th Jun 2012, whatdoiknowaboutanything wrote:

    PLease stop your making me laugh. Do people not understand that 442 is just a formation. The style of play of system is the main thing to think about. It depends on the players who play in the positions.

    Say we start 442 with rooney and welbeck upfront. Naturally rooney is going to drop deep. We could now argue that we are playing a 4411.

    Now lets say the widemen in the 442 are young and walcott. If they push up and play more attacking roles we could say that we are now playing a 4231 as you want.

    Stop thinking about computer games and get a grip. The 442 can be fluid meaning players are able to move around. It is a solid formation which can easily change around to become more attaacking.

    NEXT:

    Rooney plays best in the hole. End of. Not Gerrard. Welbeck should not play in the right. What a waste. Milner is a far more accomplished centre mid than jones, coming from a United fan.

    Roys in control and for once we seem to have a gameplan and i really dont think this team is too bad.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 21 gibsonisgreat

    A very good post. We basically played 4-4-1-1 against France and contained them pretty well with that set up. Against Ukraine the formation will almost certainly be 4-4-1-1 to start with. In possession the wide men can push forward at every opportunity to support the front two and when Ukraine have the ball Rooney will fall back into midfield.

    The big difference will hopefully be Rooney who is a much more natural 'number 10' than Young.

  • Comment number 23.

    Two words:

    Andriy "Teddy" Shevchingham. Danger man.

  • Comment number 24.

    #8.At 05:38 19th Jun 2012, MonroviaGunner

    well written. The majority of England fans go to games to have a good time and are very supportiv of their team. But the English media (press) are just the very opposite, especially the ones that hide behind their computers.

  • Comment number 25.

    Comment number 17.
    At 09:19 19th Jun 2012, whatdoiknowaboutanything wrote:


    I want England to win tonight, but there are still questions about their side.

    Trappatoni gets criticised for playing 4-4-2; it is an old and tired system commentators are saying. They don't have enough players in midfield to hold the ball, and so it makes it too easy for teams to get the ball back and press again.

    No-one is daring to say it, but isn't this exactly England's problem? Gerrard and Parker are protecting the back four, so when the ball breaks there is a huge whole between midfield and the forwards, inevitably filled by the opposition. When Gerrard does play further up the pitch we can see his quality, but he isn't up there enough.

    Given the lack of speed in Terry and the uncertainty of Lescott, England need to play 4-2-3-1. Bring in Phil Jones for Ashley Young, play Gerard ahead of Parker and Jones, with Welbeck and Oxalde left and right. Crucially, that means that when we win the ball, it can go forward to Gerrard, who can hold it up or pass forward to fast breaking midfielders or on to Rooney.

    Young and Walcott are good offensively, but too easily concede possesion, but will be great options to bring on. Milner could also be back up to Phil Jones, or even play there from the start (he has for Man City).

    England must as the better team control the play. As they showed against France and in the second half when Sweden upped thier game, they loose control of the game when they are under pressure in the 4-4-2 system. Yes, they got the result against Sweden at the end, but this was more individual flair than team structure.
    ..............................................................
    the difference is that England have actually got decent players in which they can pull off the formation. Just get beind the team and save the negativity for a later time.

  • Comment number 26.

    Tonight should round off in style what has been a fantastic group stage at Euro 2012 and what has been a pulsating final round of group fixtures over the past four days.

    Going into the tournament I had doubts over England's ability to win the group and thought that they would only narrowly qualify from the group (which may well be the case) but I actually think they could win and could better France's result tonight and take the spoils.

    I think both France and England will win but that they will both have to endure a couple of scares along the way tonight, it should be another great night of football to look forward to.
    http://jackhayward1989.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/euro-2012-day-12-predictions/

  • Comment number 27.

    David, the only way there would be unrest at the fixture is if they let the England band in and the fans riot in protest at the assault on their ears..
    The Music lovers of Poland and Ukraine, and the sports lovers have shown taste and authority by banning them.
    The atmosphere is much better without them. If only Wembley followed their lead.

    England staff and players are being realistic about our chances, Downing/Theo/Chamberlain are not going to transform into a Messi/Ronaldo. But the team has a decent shout at the tournament. RH has set a sensible and realistic tone to the demands of the media. He insists that they play as a team. I hope the players realise this and do not simply try to find Rooney with every pass and lose possession cheaply. Ukraine away is not an easy fixture for any team.

    Good Luck to Roy and his team.

  • Comment number 28.

    "We were flat-out robbed against Germany in 2010. "

    We were comprehensively outplayed by a far superior team (though, of course, the Lampard goal should have stood)

    Given how Spain then gave Germany a footballing lesson in the semi, it shows how far behind England were in 2010.

    Let's hope we do better in this tournament. I think we'll struggle against Italy, but maybe there are a bit weak at the back and we can expose them in ways Ireland failed to.

  • Comment number 29.

    #16

    I couldn't agree more with you.
    I spent several months teaching English in Poland and, whilst I never saw too many ethnic minorities, I never heard or saw any racism of any kind. I'm not saying it doesn't exist but having Sol Campbell on Panorama telling fans not to go is ridiculous. It was headline grabbing which I never expect from the BBC.

    Any country in the world could show their population videos of the riots here last year and the video of Asian guys getting mugged and say 'don't go to the Olympics, England is like a warzone'.

    Shame on the BBC for dipping their toe into this standard of reporting.

  • Comment number 30.

    i think England will be fine tonight, actually im surprisingly calm about it, prob wont be come 7pm though lol but ive been impressed with England and Hodgson so far, good solid approaches to games, not trying to do anything too spectacular, teams seems to be geling together more than ive seen since 96' and expectations are still low, which is good,

    im hoping Rooney has a good game tonight, he only got one yellow card last season and i saw many times he could have exploded but kept his cool, has he finally become the footballer we all hoped? if he does it for England then yes, we will see

    if we reach the quarters i will see that as a success and be happy, semi's over the moon, final .. well lets get tonight done first, COME ON ENGLAND!

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm a Scotland fan and will be supporting Ukraine tonight for a couple of reasons.
    1 - It will benefit the tournament to have one of the co-hosts in the quarter finals.
    2 - It will put an end to the incessant drivel that viewers have to put up with like watching Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Hart playing head tennis in a swimming pool, Danny Welbeck talking about the England squad's new haircuts.

    Also, as for fears of crowd trouble, there has been no indication of any trouble in Ukraine as yet. The media seem to want something to happen to give them a "told you so" story.
    I even heard one reporter (not sure if it was BBC or ITV) last night say that England will play in front of "a crowd of 50,000 sneering pit workers" in Donetsk. Awful journalism regardless of who employs them.

  • Comment number 32.

    #13.
    So when was the last time England won a international tournament?
    A 'world class' national side which has not won a major international competition for 44 years.
    Realistically, getting to the quarter finals will a good result.

  • Comment number 33.

    @31 it is a shame that (hopefully for england) both hosts are out of the tournament after tonight and i agree it is highly annoying seeing those scenes u mentioned, but if england win will you then support us in the quarters?

  • Comment number 34.

    @31

    "I'm a Scotland fan and will be supporting Ukraine tonight for a couple of reasons."

    err let me guess: 1. You're Scottish and err 2. You're not English.

    Thanks for your input, very interesting.

    Im sure theres some blog on bbc scotland where people might appreciate your drivel.

  • Comment number 35.

    gibbonisgreat @34

    "I'm a Scotland fan and will be supporting Ukraine tonight for a couple of reasons."

    err let me guess: 1. You're Scottish and err 2. You're not English.
    Thanks for your input, very interesting.
    Im sure theres some blog on bbc scotland where people might appreciate your drivel.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Gibbon that's not nice responding to patfeet @31, in that way.

    The lads in Scotland [do they still play the game] can't help it, It's the closest they are ever going to get to the Euros and they are only watching their next door neighbours. We should let them, afterall they may even learn something.

  • Comment number 36.

    Seriously David, why is every blog I've read of yours trying to incite trouble and racism? Every single one without fail has thrown a barbed insult at Poland or Ukraine, and even on this blog, one about the England football team and it's chances, you start with a political-sounding discussion about 'leaders' and the cost of the tournament, and incite that there may be rioting and trouble. Why? It's clear you're reporting with an agenda, something I didn't think was in the BBC remit. I didn't hear the 'pit workers' comment, but if it's true and it came from the BBC, then I'm pretty disgusted.

  • Comment number 37.

    Outnumbered roughly 10 to 1, that's good odd's for any Englishman!

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 38.

    Are the BBC going to appologise after the tournament for their rediculous-over-the top-speculation regarding the safety of being in the Ukraine???? I got back from the country at the weekend and it was fantastic. I felt as safe as anywhere and didnt encounter an ounce of hostility. The Ukraine people (and Russians) were so welcoming and pleased that (a few) English people had gone to the Ukraine to support England.

    Shame on the BBC for not giving The Ukraine a chance to prove themselves before a ball had been kicked and putting many people off from going.

    The BBC and their Panorama programme could have placed many English people into difficult situations being in the Ukraine, however the local people rised above the taunts from the wonderful BBC, glossed over it (whilst scratching head) and moved on to meeting and mixing with the English and all other nationalities visiting the Ukraine.

    Being in Kiev last Friday night, going by the BBC's judgement, should have been a bloodbath after their defeat to France. I cant emphsise enough just how good the atmosphere was all through the night and into the small hours of the morning. The local Ukraine Vodka is a little potent though!!

    I am sure the 'probably already written' scaremongering stories will become nothing more than another nail in the BBC's Euro 2012 coffin.

    So Mr Bond, will the BBC be man enough to sit side by side with former England centre half Sol Campbell and admit to the world you 'got it wrong' about the Ukraine??

  • Comment number 39.

    17. At 09:19 19th Jun 2012, whatdoiknowaboutanything wrote:

    Given the lack of speed in Terry and the uncertainty of Lescott, England need to play 4-2-3-1. Bring in Phil Jones for Ashley Young, play Gerard ahead of Parker and Jones, with Welbeck and Oxalde left and right.

    ==================================

    I was with you up until you put Welbeck out on the left (or right). Why would you play a striker as a winger, when you have 2 wingers on the bench in Young and Walcott? That doesn't make sense.

  • Comment number 40.

    What made you write "meals out in Krakow's delightful restaurants"? What evidence is there that restaurants in Krakow are "delightful". The beer might be good and cheap but the food is much better in England and Krakow's restaurants are acceptable and provide filling peasant food but far from "delightful". Please do not mislead.

  • Comment number 41.

    Will this post

  • Comment number 42.

    31.
    At 11:24 19th Jun 2012, PatFeet wrote:


    I'm a Scotland fan and will be supporting Ukraine tonight for a couple of reasons.
    ......................................
    1) i hate England
    2)i hate England

    go fight for your independance, sooner we get rid of you the better.

  • Comment number 43.

    When you live outside of England, and are not caught up in all the media hype, not just about football, but anything from reality TV shows to politics, it really does make you laugh.

    You do certainly gain a greater perspective on things. I read so many comments on here about how bad England are, and sure, most are WUMs or just truly idiotic I assume children have written them.

    But my point is, England are a respected team. I live with a German, I can assure you he and his fellow countrymen do not relish playing England.

    I have friends from many nationalities where I live in Switzerland and again, I can assure you many teams and nations respect and fear England. Its then that you realise that the majority of our problems are brought on us by ourselves, by our own fans and media.

    ..........to be continued........wont post anything longer......

  • Comment number 44.

    Sensible people and people that understand the game and are not simply fans of it, appreciate we will never play like Spain as it is simply not our way. Sure, grassroots is being over hauled and we will start to see a different style and technique emerge in the next decade but currently its not our game so it is completely foolish to expect it.

    But we do have a squad of players that in the majority are respected and feared over the world. We do have players that would get in most teams. We do, currently, have a style that is difficult to beat, and is even more impressive given the injuries and short space of time the manager has had, and who was certainly not my choice to take over as Capello.

    We are a good team, we shouldnt be arrogant to say we're the best, but we have every right to be confident to say we can compete, as the evidence shows we can, as we have beaten the Spaniards and the Germans before, albeit uncompetitively.

  • Comment number 45.

    Anyways, looking forward to tonight, and my team would be:


    ......................Hart

    Johnson....Lescott....Jagielka...Cole

    ....................Jones
    ...................Gerrard

    Walcott............................Young
    .................Rooney

  • Comment number 46.

    38.At 11:57 19th Jun 2012, AlfretonRSC_77 wrote:

    A lot of common sense there from a fellow Derbyshire lad. I was out there for a week until Saturday and it was fantastic. The people were welcoming and fun, the beer was cheap and the weather and parties were great. I think the BBC should hang its head in shame for that disgraceful Panorama programme. It has put people off going and cost a country that needs tourists and money much needed revenue.

    The programme had a complete agenda to sensationalise a problem. It was agenda led rather than news led. I am a big supporter of the BBC in general and other media outlets carried risible scaremongering stories. But the BBC has a special place and with that comes responsibilities. Its shabby treatment of a country that has been suffered repression through the ages is a stain on the BBC's reputation.

    And all the other stuff about cost of hotels and travel. How come a much smaller nation (Sweden) outnumbered us 4 to 1 in Kiev? Were there special deals for Swedes? Is it easier to travel to Kiev from Gothenburg than it is London!

  • Comment number 47.

    45 - I'm assuming Carroll was sent off in the warm up.....

  • Comment number 48.

    ......Wellbeck

    Forgot to add him to the top.


    Parker needs a rest, so does Gerrard really but cant see it happening. They are not so good in the middle so be good game for Jones to keep fresh and gain some experience. Note: I still expect Hodgson to play Parker, this is just my opinion.

    Jagielka needs to some game time as surely he can not be planning to play Terry beyond the group games. He nearly cost us Sweden and will get propely shown up against Spain or Italy. Lescott and Jag played well against the Spaniards before.

    Keep young in for not, started well against France but faded. Was poor against Swedes. But you have a front 3 who played week in week out with out and out pace on the other side so would be a good attacking move.

  • Comment number 49.

    @31 - Ha! A scottish fan not supporting England! Wow, never heard that before! Andy Murray - 'I will support any team that England are playing', oh by the way - when I play in London, England - can all you English people support me? You scotts are laughable!

  • Comment number 50.

    @33 No, probably not.
    @42 OOohhhh, touchy.

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 49

    Lets no bring that useless, skinny, whimpering, always injured, always got an excuse, sick of seeing his ugly attention seeking mother into a football thread.

  • Comment number 52.

    @51 - apologies, very off topic of me!

  • Comment number 53.

    As a natural born violent racist (I mean Pole) I would like to politely say that BBC is misleading you. There is no any real restaurants in Krakow and Krakow is not a real city. They also forgot to say that we live in the pits and hunt our food down and eat it as raw and fresh as possible. We like to dance semi naked around our pits with sticks in our hands while drinking vodka made from guano. Violence is in our nature and we intimidate everyone looking different than dirty and stinky troll as we obviously are.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 53 repetitive, YAWN........

    We know all this already, we do not need to read your diary

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree with Lescott and Jags. And Jones for Parker, who will struggle in the heat of Donetsk - he nearly expired the first game. I think Terry is slow, and the defending for Sweden's second did not inspire me either.

    If we had Jones and Gerrard, I would play Walcott and Young on the wings. I really think we need to win, and try to win by a couple. To avoid Spain.

  • Comment number 56.

    Does anyone know if 'the band' are banned from tonite as well? #fingerscrossed

  • Comment number 57.

    I can't believe how negative the English can be in major competitions. We put more emphasis on winning every game, friendly or not and never give the management a chance to develop new talent.

    England can win tonight and if they meet the Italians it should be a given to ride into the semis. The Italians were mostly pathetic and if the Irish strikers could have put the ball inside the posts they would have pulled of a shock. Instead they hit it straight at the goalie both times. Italy will play their same old boring negative style with the players falling and writhing in agony at every slight touch. They will play for the draw and hope to win on penalties as usual.

    If the English fans want a change they should ask the football authorities to start booking players who act pathetic like this and should be given a red card fro bringing the game into disrepute. Take a look at the north American fans from USA and Canada who show amazing support fro their teams. Be proud and believe you can win. Get behind the team and manager who has shown what you can do with maybe not the best talent but a god TEAM.

  • Comment number 58.

    @49

    "Ha! A scottish fan not supporting England! Wow, never heard that before!"

    Very much like how we have never heard how Andy Murray hates the English, even though several times he has said it was a joke, he lives in London and has English friends, really you are using that old one! And not all Scotts (as you spell it) are anti-english so try and remove your stereotyping blinkered thoughts - if you can.

    I would be more than happy to see England do well and as a Scotsman would love to have players of that talent in a team, there has never been doubts that England have some good individual players, it is playing as a team that has let them down in the past.

  • Comment number 59.

    @58

    I was responding to another Scottish fan on here giving rather humorous reasons as to why he will be supporting the Ukraine tonight.

    Read my post - where did I say that Murray hates the English? I simply stated that he said (no matter how long ago) that he supports any team that England plays, then expects us to support him. Very easy to say it was a joke once you've said it - and yes I saw the whole interview.

    Back to the football, what worries me is after talking to alot of people and reading various blogs, many think that qualification will be a formality! That is certainly not the case, yet if we keep cool and play well then we will win, but can we do that?

  • Comment number 60.

    England will have to play very well tonight to get even a point. This is the biggest match in Ukraine's history and is also a last hurrah for players like Shevchenko and Tymoshchuk. Hopefully Rooney will start and Walcott gets a full game on the right wing. The fans will be right behind the Ukraine who won the last meeting between the two sides.

  • Comment number 61.

    #31

    'Agincourt, Waterloo, Donetsk'

    Need we say any more?

  • Comment number 62.

    I think the 'pit workers' comment was Gabby Logan.
    Didn't Sol Campbell say that if you go to the Euros you'll be coming back in a coffin? I'd like to see him apologise, or at least say he was misled by the BBC.

    My prediction is 3-1 to England. Ukraine is an average side at best and I also predict that England wont be playing in a 'cauldron' or the 'Lion's den' or in a 'mass of crazed neanderthal, cannibalistic, racist pit workers'. Probably be quite subdued as in the France - Ukraine game.

  • Comment number 63.

    My prediction is a 1-1 draw with goals from Terry and Yarmolenko. Ukraine to equalise early England goal but not have quite enough to take all three points. Should be a cracking game though.

    http://jedidiahgore.blogspot.it/2012/06/ukraine-desperate-for-england-scalp-in.html

  • Comment number 64.

    I think Engalnd will qualify but I don't believe Rooney should start, there is now so much pressure and expectation on him (and i will probably get booed here but I don't think he is the same player as he was a year, maybe two years ago), not to mention how well Carroll and Welbeck played. Why not start with the same 11 and if required bring Rooney on, even at half time. I know it's an old saying but "if it ain't broke don't fix" and even though they lost 2 goals they scored 3, surely that's always the main aim of football, score one more than the other team!

  • Comment number 65.

    I read in the Times today that Hodgson states that Rooney can match the talismanic impact the Pele did in several world cups !!!
    Rooney couldn't even change Pele's studs, there are screw in ones !!

  • Comment number 66.

    As an Englishman living in Ukraine some of the journalism has astounded me from the bbc etc. I have never encounted any problems here, and have found people friendly and even when sport comes into it take defeat on the chin...with a couple of vodkas. I'm watching the game tonight with Ukrainian friends and whatever the result, we'll have fun and socialise afterwards.....sometimes the idiocy of journalism astounds me...

  • Comment number 67.

    Hodgson knows this is not the Rooney show. England need to work as a team and be ruthless winners.

  • Comment number 68.

    @ 64 RustyFunk

    I would also say Rooney is not the same player he was a year or two ago but with a different meaning. I think he is a better player now and (touch wood) seems to have curbed his tendency to lose control of his temper in the last year (the red card for England being the obvious exception).

    Can he replicate the form he has shown for Man Utd in an England shirt and come back into the team without disrupting the rhythm and togetherness that has developed in recent matches? I am hoping the answer to both questions is yes.

  • Comment number 69.

    @62 "or in a 'mass of crazed neanderthal, cannibalistic, racist pit workers'. Probably be quite subdued as in the France - Ukraine game."

    lololol i do think that the Ukraine has been greatly misrepresented greatly. Seems like there has been a full out attack on ukraine recently.

    I wonder what other countries would say amount England if we were to hold a major football tournament.

    http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/United_Kingdom/England/Warnings_or_Dangers-England-TG-C-1.html

  • Comment number 70.

    Potential dangers of Ukraine:
    -Racism
    -Violence
    -Neo Nazism
    -Rioting

    Potential Dangers of UK:
    -Rising Bollards
    -Arirport Full Body Scaners
    -Pigeons
    -Punting

  • Comment number 71.

    Actual dangers of Ukraine:
    -Racism - One banana and some monkey chants
    -Violence - Russians, Poles and Croatians
    -Neo Nazism - Dream on
    -Rioting - Wasn't any

    Actual Dangers of UK:
    -Racism - Constant
    -Violence - Every Friday and Saturday night
    -Neo Nazism - BNP
    -Rioting - Last Summer

  • Comment number 72.

    @71

    Wasnt saying those things happened. I posted above ridiculing the negative publicity that Ukraine has recieved.

    I was making a joke. I was wondering what type of things foreigns would say about the UK so i researched it and posted a link in post 69. The "dangers" were trivial. Much like the "dangers" of Ukraine are trivial also.

  • Comment number 73.

    72 Apologies, I and agree with your comments above.
    It's a shame UK is actual.
    Wasn't it after Euro 96 Semi vs Germany that people went round trashing Germany made cars in London. Charming !!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    "This young nation's path to political stability is still a work in progress..."

    This is a bit simplistic Mr Bond. Ukraine definitely isn't "young" in the sense that the USA or Australia are young.

    http://www.only9sixty.blogspot.com

    ...is an up-to-date account of Poland and Ukraine, written by someone who walked across them for charity last year. Ukraine's chapter is called '988 and All That', to give some idea of its considerable history.

  • Comment number 75.

    Actual Dangers of UK:
    -Racism - Constant
    -Violence - Every Friday and Saturday night
    -Neo Nazism - BNP
    -Rioting - Last Summer
    ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

    pointless.

    Racism is not constant. UK the most multi cultural society in the world, aside from maybe US.

    Violence - your answer is the same for every country in the world. Its called alcohol, bravado, and female effect.

    Every country has far right politicians, UKs are very tame compared to most others, including Ukraine and Poland, and more so Greece.

    Rioting happened. But again are happening everywhere in the world right now. Not sure england has locked up any politicians and tortured them though, but thats another story.

  • Comment number 76.

    @73

    Yes as much as I am pro UK there are always groups of people who try to ruin it for the masses. I would point out that Racism in the UK is limited in football especially in the top flight. A lot has been done to change peoples views and to tackle it in the game. The UK is actually a very diverse country and i dont think racism is a problem until people need an excuse to hate somebody. It is a shame but i dont know of any country that hasnt had problems. The Uk i believe is past the worst of it.

    There is a video of a huge crowd of supporters in leicester square after the 4-1 defeat, burning the German flag until one man tries to stop him.

    Pack mentality and all that.

    I think that the Ukraine is an uknown country to most people as it is relatively new and maybe has issues that are yet to be ironed out but on the whole its seems like the Poles and Russians making all the noise.

  • Comment number 77.

    Anyways, can we concentrate on the football.

    Rooney has to play, of course he does. I appreciate people have this sentiment with the replacement guys have been ok, and its his own fault, and look at WC2010. I understand each nothing, but, get real.

    WC2010: not one single player put in a half decent performance. Every game, every individual was shocking. So, why single out Rooney? Lets add to that shall we; Englands first game this tournament against France. The team actually played well as opposed to 2010, but we were still under lots of pressure. Wellbeck put in a work horse performance, but he didnt score or see much of the ball, because our midfield were defending. do you see where I am going with this? A striker/forward player needs support, see Messi, Ronaldo, Torre, Villa, Gomez, Klose etc for reference

  • Comment number 78.

    Replacements, yes, they have done well, but they do not have the ability Rooney has. Rooney is superior in skill, technique, ability, passion, vision, bringing others into play, dictating the game, passing, pulling defenders out of position. He can do all these things, not one other player can. Gerrard used to be able to, to some degree, but cant now.

    Plus, Rooney has played week in week out with Young and Wellbeck, it helps.

    Lastly, you only have to listen to the team in reference to Rooney to see they are also looking forward to him being back. They know he bring an extra dimension to the team and extra 10% from them

  • Comment number 79.

    I am actually excited for tonight with rooney and welbeck up front i hope to see some great attacking football with young combining as well.

  • Comment number 80.

    When I saw Rooney's haircut I thought it looked as if it had last been cut while Bush II was riding high in the polls; anyway, let's trust him: he'll have a supreme performance: let's not leave the lads in the lurch; England need their fans to be optimistic, it's not that chances are slim to nil this time, footy is crammed with crazy and baffling stuff: for example, in Argentina there's a team tht is on the verge of winning the tournament, but at the same time they may get promoted. I highly hope Tim Vickery gets an article written on this, which is despicable as well as uncanny. So, with all these crazy things taking place in our footie atmosphere, England might end up lifting the Euro 2012, right?

  • Comment number 81.

    England to win, putting in a decent performance and Roy Hodgson to get the best out of the team.

  • Comment number 82.

    My prediction:

    If England get a win or a draw - very few sour grapes from the Ukrainians. If they lose - very little, if any, rubbing it in from the Ukrainians.

  • Comment number 83.

    What's the mood in the camp?

    Seriously though. Must be nearing kick-off; jingometer is rising.

  • Comment number 84.

    Who would win say (Liverpool or Tottenham) vs Ukraine.

    Who would win England vs (United or Chelsea)

  • Comment number 85.

    The national team of England can now show what they are made of ...
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    They play an 'away fixture' in an important competition, and
    they have the best English manager and their best team available.

  • Comment number 86.

    #80

    Remarkable similarity to the main character in PS2's 'Bully'?
    Who inspired whom?

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    Rooney to score a goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain to rub his head in celebration not knowing any better, Rooney then deck Oxlade and get sent off. England to go on and lose 2-1, Rooney's new hair to fall out with the stress of the Nations backlash!

    Stanger things have happened...

  • Comment number 89.

    I saw someone say they need to win it so they can top the group and then face "average italy". Emmm, Have you watched England? Oh yeah, because they (Just) beat one of the poorest sides in the competition and a drew with an over rated French team they are all of a sudden one of the favourites to win the whole thing and will easily dispose of the average Italian side!

    My prediction: 2-1 Ukraine...England sent packing.

  • Comment number 90.

    @31

    Grow up...You're Scottish, so why would you support England?

    Your comments are not really constructive are they?

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 90, because your comments are...?

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 89 who_me_yes_you

    Italy are a very good side although they do blow hot and cold. Should England progress (and I think they will just) I would prefer them to play Spain as they looked quite predictable against Croatia.

  • Comment number 93.

    How can anybody in their right mind compare Rooney to Pele? Rooney is a great player but Pele was a legendary magician!

  • Comment number 94.

    @13 - Totally agree with you - there is far too much pesimism going on and people think that other teams are far better than they actually are. The only team I have been really impressed with are the Germans - but that's more to do with their machine like efficiency.

    I hope we go through and get the opportunity to play Italy because quite frankly they have been distinctly average and as long as whoever referees the game doesn't fall for their blatant cheating we should get on OK.

    If Lampard's goal had counted we would have beaten Germany - 4:1 was not a fair reflection of the circumstances.

    Tonight will be tense and we really need to lose the nerves. I am expecting a tense narrow victory!

  • Comment number 95.

    I read a post like 89 and think, have you watched the rest of the competition?

    Have you seen whats happened to one of the favourties? They didnt even pick up a point.

    GO home, behave

  • Comment number 96.

    Lets be honest england did ok against france, nothing special just solid and compact however against sweden they had a spell for about 20mins where they made you look pathetic.. I expect england to qualify but whoever you face in the knockout stage italy / spain will teach you a lesson in how to retain possesion of the football and if you have such pathetic spells as you did against the swedes italy and spain will make you pay and win easy.
    Makes me laugh how the english think roony is some kind of genius thats going to make the difference, im yet to see rooney dominate a international game against a quality team and besides to get the best out of rooney you need to keep possesion of the ball. lol GOODLUCK

  • Comment number 97.

    The Beautiful Game needs to be celebrated by footballers,
    match-officials, fans and the organizers of the show.
    Wishing one and all a fine outing.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 98.

    @96

    Is this the same Italy who lost to Ireland 2-0 this time last year?

    Or the ones who drew with Serbia 1-1?

    Or maybe the ones who lost to united states 1-0 a few months ago??

    And Spain, you mean the team who have recently lost to Italy, England and drawn with Costs Rica???

    Just want to be sure we're on same page.

    But you can get back in your box now.

  • Comment number 99.

    "Russian fans *could* complicate the security plans for the match by wearing England shirts". Could? This is lazy, unsourced journalism David, and quite frankly its embarrassing. When all goes well and there is no trouble, I expect you should come on here and apologise, for placing 'coulds' and 'maybes' before making unverifiable, hysterical comments is the preserve of tabloid journalism, not the BBC. The BBC has a perfectly good Football Editor, why on earth are our licence fees going to support this spurious blog? At least Mihir Bose did some investigating!

  • Comment number 100.

    Get a life singhy

 

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