England v Ukraine, 19:45
There has been none of the bravado that surrounded Rooney’s return in 2006, and some of that humility probably stems from the dead-headed manner of his sending-off. If the Luis Suarez handball against Ghana could be considered the most useful way to get sent off, Rooney’s stupid kick out at a defender is at the other end of that spectrum, but all that is done and with any luck he’ll be keen to make up for his misdeed.
The other factor that may prove vital is the rest he has enjoyed over the last few weeks, not featuring heavily in the build-up games, and the injury he was carrying at the end of the season should also have eased because of that, so he may be more fresh and fit that some other players. The decision about who will drop to the bench is one Roy Hodgson must take, but there is no doubt Wayne will play tonight.
The Ukraine will be in front of their home fans, and so far they’ve done a good job of making that an advantage rather than a burden. Andriy Shevchenko is turning this competition into his last hurrah with some aplomb and the English defence will need to be alive to his movement, if not his pace. With Sweden having nothing to play for both sides here must assume France will win, and plan accordingly.
Theo Walcott suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury in training on Sunday, described by manager Roy Hodgson as a “slight setback”. Andriy Shevchenko is struggling with a left knee problem sustained in the 2-1 win over Sweden, but will be desperate to play, not expecting another chance given he is now 35. You can get 6/1 on a nervy 1-1 draw with William Hill, which would put England through, just.
Sweden v France, 19:45
There is always an issue with translation when you are reading the words of a foreign footballer, but some of the players in the Swedish squad sounded decidedly downbeat after the England game, and not at all like they cared about the result tonight. England and the Ukraine will both want Erik Hamren’s side to make a game of this, but in some respects the Swedes know they aren’t expected to win anyway, which is not going to help motivate them.
Amazingly, the French had never won a game at the European Championship finals without either Zidane or Platini in the team before the victory over Ukraine, but that win was good for their confidence and a nice watch at times. Their squad is strong enough to rotate in most positions of necessary, but the coach will need to be attentive when it comes to the fitness of the likes of Frank Ribery and Karim Benzema, who have had fairly heavy seasons with their club sides and are vital cogs in the French machine.
Erik Hamren will replace Johan Elmander with either Markus Rosenberg or Ola Toivonen up front, and as he seeks to use some more of his squad one or two other fringe players can expect to feature. If Yohan Cabaye has a slight knock, so Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila could replace him if the Newcastle player doesn’t recover in time. Samir Nasri is 8/1 with William Hill as first scorer, and France have a striker in Benzema who is capable of making space for his midfield supporters.