Match preview: sizing up Sweden versus Ukraine

The Local's Joe Lynskey takes a look at what Sweden can expect as they kick off their Euro 2012 Group in Kiev against co-hosts Ukraine on Monday night.

Match preview: sizing up Sweden versus Ukraine

Sweden will have to overcome home advantage as they kick-off their Euro 2012 campaign in Kiev against a Ukrainian side that will doubtless be backed by a raucous and expectant set of supporters.

The co-hosts are a side missing their experienced goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovsky, as well as key defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy.

Sweden will feel there will be plenty of areas for them to exploit, particularly if they can deal with the threat posed by Ukraine’s veteran talisman, Andriy Shevchenko.

The 35-year old was once the most feared striker in Europe, with Chelsea paying €43 million for him in 2006. However, after Shevchenko suffered several back injuries this season, Swedish defenders Olaf Mellberg and Andreas Granqvist will feel more confident of keeping the former Milan star quiet.

The Local took to Medborgarplatsen to ask Stockholmers about Sweden’s hopes for Euro 2012

With automatic qualification to the tournament assured for the co-hosts, Ukraine have prepared for the tournament with a series of friendly games over the last year with generally disappointing results, including a 4-1 loss to France in Kiev.

Sweden have faced their opponents only 3 times previously, with their first meeting in 2008. They will certainly take confidence, however, from the 1-0 win they achieved in Kiev last August.

A 90th minute goal from Tobias Hysen was enough to give Sweden the win in the friendly game.

Monday night’s game promises to be a much more competitive and tense affair, however, with both teams perhaps seeing this as their most winnable fixture in the group stage, compared with games against France and England to come for both.

Sweden may feel that if they can deal with the atmosphere of the capacity home crowd, they will be able to deal with their opponents on the pitch.

A good result is crucial, however, if Erik Hamren’s men are to take some momentum into the rest of the tournament.

Time: Monday, June 11th, 8.45pm CET

Place: Kiev, Ukraine

Broadcast: SVT 1 (in Sweden)

Joe Lynskey

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Germany to support defence of Polish airspace

Germany on Monday said it had reached an agreement to help Poland protect its skies following a deadly rocket strike close to the border with Ukraine.

Germany to support defence of Polish airspace

Berlin would “send Patriot anti-aircraft systems to Poland and support the securing of Polish airspace with Eurofighter (jets)”, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Germany to buy F-35 fighter jets in military shopping spree

Two people were killed last week when a missile landed in the Polish village of Przewodow, six kilometres (four miles) from the Ukrainian border.

Warsaw and NATO have said the explosion was likely caused by a Ukrainian air-defence missile launched to intercept a Russian barrage, but that Moscow was ultimately to blame because it started the conflict.

Before the deal was agreed, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said he “welcomed the German proposal with satisfaction”.

Blaszczak said on Twitter he would propose for the systems to be “stationed close to the border with Ukraine”.

Germany has already sent Patriot anti-aircraft units to Slovakia, where Berlin hopes to keep them deployed for longer than currently planned.

The air-defence systems should remain in Slovakia “until the end of 2023 and potentially even beyond”, Lambrecht told the Rheinische Post daily.

“It is our utmost responsibility that NATO does not become a participant in this conflict,” while strengthening its air defences, she said.

READ ALSO: Germany and Spain to train Ukraine troops under EU programme