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Euro 2012: Moving on to Poland, Russia, and Matchday Five

shevchenko sweden ukraine euros

Monday gave us the final two games of the first group stage round, and for Liverpool fans the main attraction was France versus England, where two of the club's players started and another four were available from the bench. We took an extended look at England's draw yesterday, which means it's time now for a quick look back at the exciting Ukraine-Sweden match and a look ahead to the start of the second set of group games, including the dominant Russians taking on hosts Poland, desperate for a result to keep any hopes of advancing alive.

Ukraine 2, Sweden 1
Shevchenko 55', 62'
SWE: Ibrahimovic 52'

It may have been sloppy at times, but it was still a far more effective attacking—and for the fans a far more entertaining—performance by both countries than was seen earlier when France and England faced off. Both sides went at each other from the opening, the Swedes sensing a win against the weakest side in the group on paper could give them one foot in the knock out rounds while Ukraine did what Poland failed to on Friday and channeled the home support rather than being intimidated by it. In the end, Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to score in a big game, but he was quickly outshone by the 35-year-old Shevchenko, whose two headed goals put Ukraine top of Group D. Elsewhere, though, that Andriy Voronin looked at least moderately effective throughout may not say much that's good about the hopes of either country moving forward, even if in isolation the match seemed to show a pair of nations with a legitimate chance of beating out France and England for the top two spots in the group.

For today's matches:

Greece v. Czech Republic
5:00PM BST/12:00PM EST

In the first games in Group A, Greece looked best after going down to ten men and the Czechs looked best until Russia woke up fifteen minutes in. On paper at least, the Czech Republic is probably the second favourite in the group, but after Friday's mauling it's an open question whether this Czech attack led by Jaroslav Plasil, Vaclav Pilar, and Milan Baros can find their feet in time to advance. The Greeks, meanwhile, will have to prove they can provide a goal threat when they aren't trailing—at least for anybody hoping for an enjoyable match. As far as the Greeks may be concerned, with Russia rolling and a point in hand, setting up for the draw from the outset as England did on Monday could be a perfectly sensible approach.

Poland v. Russia
7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST

Whether Poland disappointed on Friday depends largely on if one only considered their low FIFA ranking and never expected much or instead saw names like Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski along with local support and at least expected a better showing against a Greek side down to ten men in the first half. Either way, however, a win on Friday was by most accounts Poland's only realistic route into the knock out rounds. Which now leaves a rather less realistic route that starts today when the host nation needs to at least earn a draw against the powerful Russians and the quick-strike attack of Roman Shirokov, Alan Dzagoev, and an on-form Andrey Arshavin that tore the Czechs to shreds.

We'll be around here and over on Twitter throughout today's games, and we'll be back later with any Liverpool news—or at least we will be if there is any Liverpool news of note to talk about with everyone focused on the Euros. In the meantime, if you joined our Euro Manager group, remember that you can now start picking a new set of players for the second round of matches.

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