With all of the other three groups having completed their second round of fixtures we are back to Group D which is shaping up as one of the tightest groups in the competition. France and England are stuck with a single point after their admittedly dull draw with each other on Monday, so are both in dire need of a win today. Rank outsiders Ukraine top the group after their victory over Sweden who obviously hold last place despite their brilliant record in qualifying.
Along with the importance of three points for all four of the teams there are a number of subplots to be played out today, including England’s inability to defeat Sweden in a competitive fixture and whether Ukraine can carry on punching above their weight. Will Andriy Shevchenko be able to repeat his goal-scoring heroics from Monday? Will Karim Benzema finally open his account for the tournament? Will England actually manage to string together more than three passes? There are so many questions to be answered, just like there was in yesterday’s games.
After their impressive showing against Spain in their opening game the pressure was on Italy to deliver three points against Croatia, and they looked on course to do just that when Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick crept into the corner of the net despite the best efforts of Stipe Pletikosa. However, their second half performance was lacklustre and that gave the Croats a way back into the game which they took courtesy of Mario Mandzukic’s third goal of the tournament. That result left Italy with two points from two games, and Croatia looked in a much more healthy position with four points from two, with Spain left to play.
Speaking of Spain, Vicente Del Bosque balked under the media pressure opting to withdraw Cesc Fàbregas from the starting line-up in favour of Fernando Torres. Was VDB going crazy? Was his gamble going to backfire? We only had to wait a few minutes to find out the answer was a resounding no. Torres opened the scoring with a ferocious strike at the near post, before the gulf in class was emphatically hammered home with goals from David Silva, Torres (again) and Cesc Fàbregas securing a 4-0 win against Republic of Ireland who are officially out. Group C could get extremely complicated provided Spain draw with Croatia and Italy win, but Luis has broken it down nicely in this comment. Be sure to take a look!
|Republic of Ireland||2||0||0||2||1||7||-6||0|
Back to today’s games and we kick-off with the French taking on the hosts Ukraine, before England face off against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden. Here’s how Group D looks at the moment: