Today marks the last set of opening matches at Euro 2012. The key, as always, is not to lose. Only 38% of teams that lose their first match advance. On to Group D.
France vs. England, 12 noon ET
A classic old-school matchup. Both sides will rely on youth due to squad turnover (France) and injuries (England). But Les Bleus will feature the two best players on the pitch: Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery. That may be true in every Group D match, but not beyond the group stage. I like France's look, though.
England is another story. No Frank Lampard may be a positive, as he and Steven Gerrard seemingly cannot coexist. But Wayne Rooney still has no strike partner, and there are no good vibes (albeit good results) surrounding this squad. Can Roy Hodgson grind out 1-0 results against top opposition? I say no.
Ukraine vs. Sweden, 2:45 pm ET
The other co-host closes the first round of matches in Kiev. Likely a more vociferous crowd supporting a better side. Impressive that only Anatoliy Tymoshchuk plays outside the old Russian empire. Important to get a win in their debut, with the positive vibes flowing at full blast.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic + 10 gets underway in a challenging group. Maybe not the "Group of Death," but every team in Group D has its pluses and minuses. A draw in both of today's matches would likely please the Swedes.