The latest tournament news and updates from Poland and Ukraine
Thirsday 21 June
Mario Balotelli should start for Italy against England this Sunday, according to his club manager Roberto Mancini. Manchester City manager Mancini believes Italy will be at their dangerous best with Balotelli starting. "Mario should always play," said Mancini. "He is the best and with him, the national team is much stronger. Italy are much stronger if Balotelli plays.
"If you look at the other day, he (Balotelli) came on against Ireland, made an impact in the game and scored a splendid goal."
Wednesday 20 June
Italy will be without key defender Giorgio Chiellini when they face England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 in Kiev on Sunday.
Chiellini, the Juventus defender, was replaced by Leonardo Bonnucci during Italy's 2-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland on Monday after sustaining a thigh injury, from which he has failed to recover.
Bonnucci is now expected to partner Andrea Barzagli at the heart of Italy's defence, while Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli is pushing for a recall to coach Cesare Prandelli's starting line-up after coming off the bench to score Italy's second goal on Monday.
Prandelli has no other injury concerns ahead of Sunday's quarter-final.
Tuesday 19 June
believes England's potential Quarter Final opponents Italy are in fine shape ahead of the knockout stages.
Italy advanced from their group in second place and it means if England top Group D, they will face Prandelli's men in the last eight.
And the Italy coach said: "I'm happy for the team and I'm happy for the squad. I am lucky enough to work with lads who are very serious and also lads who have won a lot of trophies, and they are still very motivated.
"My task in this is not that huge because they are the ones who determine the actual team spirit. The players have a lot of quality. First and foremost, they really need to show intensity and then their quality will start to show itself."
Laurent Blanc has urged his France side
to be fully focused ahead of their clash with Sweden on Tuesday night. Sweden will finish bottom of Group D and haven't beaten France since 1969 - and with Les Bleus needing just a point to qualify, Blanc has told his side to keep their concentration.
"There is always fear you might take your eye off the ball so it is up to us to be very serious in the way we prepare for the game," he said.
"We need to be aware of what we need to achieve. We were very happy after the Ukraine game and rightly so. We are playing against a side who have not qualified but they will still go out to win the game. We mustn't underestimate Sweden."
Monday 18 June
England have been handed a potential boost
ahead of their EURO 2012 Group D clash against Ukraine with the news that all-time record goalscorer Andriy Shevchenko is rated as "doubtful" for Tuesday night’s match. The former Chelsea striker, who grabbed a match-winning brace during Ukraine’s 2-1 win against Sweden, picked up a knee injury during his side’s 2-0 defeat to France on Friday.
"Andriy suffered a kick to his knee during the second half against Sweden and then another kick in the same area against France," said a Ukraine football association spokesman.
"He is unable to train today and I would say he is doubtful for Tuesday. He has seen the doctor and is now having treatment. We hope he can still take part but I repeat, he is doubtful."
Friday 15 June
looks set to lose his place in the Italy team for their final group game against Republic of Ireland on Monday. Balotelli has failed to make any impact during his first two games and looks set to be replaced by Antonio Di Natale.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli admits he will make up to four changes for the game and feels the Manchester City striker needs to show a big improvement. Prandelli said: "He has huge potential, but he needs to improve. He needs to be more ruthless and pay more attention. These are the areas he needs to improve."
Italy have to record a victory in their final game and hope Spain can do them a big favour and beat Croatia if they are to stand any chance of reaching the knockout phase of the competition.
Sweden are expected to
make three changes to the side that lost their opening Euro 2012 match as they prepare to take on England - with Johan Elmander and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack.
Elmander played 20 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to Ukraine and will start as striker, with Ibrahimovic expected to be slightly deeper in the No.10 role.
Elsewhere, coach Erik Hamren will will bring on Anders Svensson to partner Kim Kallstrom in the middle, with Rasmus Elm moving out to the left wing and Ola Toivonen dropped to the bench.
Mikael Lustig misses out with a hip problem which means Jonas Olsson will play in the centre of defence and Andreas Granqvist moves to right-back.
Tuesday 12 June
Sweden coach Erik Hamren
has told his side they must improve if they want to reach the knockout stages of EURO 2012. Sweden suffered a setback in their opening game as they went down 2-1 to co-hosts Ukraine, leaving them with a mountain to climb in Group D. And Hamren, whose side face England this Friday said: "We're not reaching the level we want to and that's my responsibility as a coach. I'm not happy with the team, I was expecting more. The players do want it very much, but we must improve."
Laurent Blanc believes his France side
are in good shape following their 1-1 draw with England. Les Bleus are currently on a 22-match unbeaten run and have come a long way from their disappointing World Cup campaign of two years ago. And Blanc said ahead of France's clash with Ukraine on Friday: "We are making a lot of progress. We have come from nothing in 2010, when we made a lot of mistakes. Today we are more mature. We can do something with this group."
Monday 11 June
Ukraine manager Oleg Blokhin
has urged his side to prove they are worthy co-hosts of Euro 2012 by putting on a show against Sweden on Monday.
Ukraine face Sweden as they get underway in England's group and Blokhin wants his team to set a marker for the rest of their campaign.
"These guys have to face up to it, whether they like it or not," he said. "I said back in 2010 that it was time to revamp the national team. They may not win anything, but they're going to gain precious experience for the future, although of course I hope we go a long way in the competition. Hosting the tournament is like a tornado that could throw us in an unknown direction."
Sunday 10 June
Ukraine manager Oleg Blokhin
says his side are desperate to get started in Euro 2012 and insists they can enjoy a hugely successful tournament. The hosts open their campaign against Sweden in Kiev's Olympic Stadium and know that victory would give them a huge boost in their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals from Group D, which also includes England and France. And Blokhin feels his team has the right mix of youth and experience and that they are ready for the tournament.
"Like a good horse, we are ready for the start,” said the former European Footballer of the Year. “It is my job to calm the players down because they can't wait to get started. Sweden have a very good team, with a very good starting line-up and they rarely change the starting line-up. It will be a tough game and we will see if it will be an open game or a tight one. It will be a tough battle. I don't want to get into politics or talk of armies, I just want it to be a good game.”
And Blokhin says he will not be distracted by the result of England against France in the day's early game and believes Denmark's victory over Holland should give all of the so-called lesser lights hope. He added: "We have a chance, everyone does, this is the European Championship. The Dutch lost to Denmark. But we all have three games. I don't think we should pay too much attention to the result of France and England. Sweden have Kim Kallstrom and Johan Elmander, they have two good centre backs, good midfielders, good full backs. If we make mistakes, we will lose. Saying Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the only player (in Sweden's team) is a big mistake. He is a great player, but they are a good team."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Sweden's preparation has been perfect as they get ready to give off their Euro 2012 against hosts Ukraine in Kiev. The AC Milan striker is Sweden's talisman and is expected to shoulder the burden of leading his country's attack against Oleg Blokhin's side. But Ibrahimovic reckons his team couldn't have had a better warm-up for the tournament from their base at Dynamo Kiev's training ground.
"Preparation is so far so good, we have everything we need, we have a fantastic hotel, and everyone has made us feel welcome. I think this is the best place we have ever been in for a European Championship or World Cup,” he said.
"It will be a bit nervous in the beginning v Ukraine, both teams like ball possession, they keep the ball well. We will try to take the chances when we get them. I will give 100 or 200 per cent. And all of us will think like that. We are strong away from home because teams try to defend more when we are at home.”
And Ibrahimovic insists the match is 50-50 and is adamant he can deal with the pressure of leading his country into the tournament. He added: "I think Sweden and Ukraine are about the same. The whole team is a danger, and we must prepare that way. I feel a lot of pressure, but I like to play under pressure, it means you never relax and you have something big to play for. But everyone has a small responsibility as part of the full package."
Sweden coach Erik Hamren is dreaming of winning the European Championship ahead of his side's Euro 2012 opener against Ukraine in Kiev. Hamren has the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander and Rasmus Elm to call on in attack and says that allows him to dream about going all the way and returning to Kiev for the Final on 1 July.
"I always sleep well, maybe it's my conscience,” he laughed. “I dream a lot, and when I dream I dream about winning. We are here because we've been an attacking team, but we must also be good in defence, but attacking helps that so they are linked. Whether we play an attacking or defensive line-up will decide how we play against Ukraine. But it depends on our opponents too. We are on the pitch to win the game, and we have to decide how we are going to win the game.
"We'll have a session before the game, then some rest for the players and I will keep on dreaming my dreams. But a very wise man once said that to experience your dreams you have to be awake."
Andriy Shevchenko admits he cannot underestimate the importance of playing the European Championship in front of his home crowd in Ukraine. The former Chelsea striker is from Kiev and Ukraine's tournament will start in the Olympic Stadium against Sweden on Monday night.
And the 35-year-old says he will be an extremely proud man come kick-off ahead of a game in which England and France are the other two sides.
"Of course it's very important for me to play for my country in front of my home crowd,” he said. “As a player who has played for 16 years for my country it is a proud moment and it will be an interesting tournament. For me and every Ukrainian player it is a very important tournament and I am very glad that I'm in the 23-man squad. When the team is picked I hope I am there.”
Saturday 9 June
France midfielder Yohan Cabaye has admitted he fears rejuvenated Steven Gerrard the most out of England’s exciting squad, ahead of their game on Monday.
Newcastle star Cabaye has admitted his side is expecting a tough game against The Three Lions and Manchester United striker, Danny Welbeck, who was on target against Belgium, is also a cause for concern for Les Bleus.
“I am expecting a big fight and a very big game,” Cabaye said. “We are ready. Even with England’s absentees, they will have a big team to beat France. We are in the position of outsiders and I think the English are more favorites than us in this group.
“Steven Gerrard is the soul of this team. Even though he has not played much this season, we will be wary,” Cabaye added about the fit-again England captain.
“Also, I like Danny Welbeck. After that, it is certain that the absence of Wayne Rooney will be important for them. Rooney’s absence will be a chance for us but we will be wary of his replacement.”
Olof Mellberg says Sweden are ready to burst their hosts' bubble by beating Ukraine in their Group D opener on Monday night.
The former Aston Villa centre-back, whose side take on England in their second Group D match on Friday, is fully confident that Sweden can get off to the perfect start.
"If we have a good start and play well it can have a good effect on us and obviously puts more pressure on them. Then again if they play well and get a good start they will be backed by their home fans and it will be a tough game.
“I think we have a pretty good idea (of how they will play), but they haven't played that many competitive games over the last couple of years so it will obviously be a completely different story on Monday in front of their own fans in a really big tournament like this.
“So even though we are fairly familiar with the team it is difficult to say how they will act on Monday."
Friday 8 June
Poland coach Franciszek Smuda says Manchester United could be signing star striker Robert Lewandowski this summer. Lewandowski, who scored a hat-trick in front of Sir Alex Ferguson when Borussia Dortmund beat Bayern Munich 5-2 in the German Cup Final last month, is set to star for co-hosts Poland at Euro 2012. And his team coach Smuda says the 23-year-old may be off to Old Trafford - with Lukasz Piszczek and Kuba Blaszczykowski potentially leaving Dortmund too. "In my opinion, in a moment they will be gone from Borussia," said Smuda. '"Lewy" is going to Manchester United, Kuba also somewhere in England, Piszczek to Real (Madrid)."
France have refuted accusations that central defender Philippe Mexes is overweight ahead of their opening game against England. The AC Milan defender, who could face the pace of Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on Monday, has looked bigger since his return from a knee ligament injury. But France doctor Fabrice Bryand said Mexes' body shape was: "Not at all absurd." And he added: "After his injury he added a lot of muscle to his knee and also to his upper body. "We're in an advisory role. We make the menus, we monitor how the food is eaten and in what quantity. But we are not prison guards, he knows his best interests."
Yann M'Vila is a major doubt for France ahead of their Euro 2012 opener with England on Monday. M'Vila damaged his ankle in a friendly against Serbia last month and Les Bleus team doctor Fabrice Bryand believes the central midfielder may miss out. "His progress is good but we do not want to aggravate the injury," Bryand told L'Equipe. "We are not optimistic for the 11 (against England). We will increase his workload and see if his ankle swells again or if he suffers any ill effects. We will pay close attention to the player's recovery."
Wednesday 6 June
Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine are struggling due to an outbreak of food poisoning that has affected ten of their players. The players were taken ill during their pre-tournament trip to Germany, but none of them are expected to miss the hosts' opening game against Sweden in Kiev on Monday. "They were out running this morning, so we would expect that they will all be fine for the opening game against Sweden," said a team spokesman.
Friday 1 June
France midfielder Yann M'Vila is optimistic he can still make Euro 2012 after suffering a pre-tournament injury scare. M'Vila limped out of France's 2-0 win over Serbia after just four minutes on Thursday night and was seen in tears. But it appears his ankle injury is not as bad as first feared, meaning he could yet face England in Les Bleus' tournament opener. M'Vila told L'Equipe: "I cracked up. A lot of things went through my mind. I thought of that straight away, that the Euro was over for me." France coach Laurent Blanc added: "He has a big sprain on his ankle, but it's not too worrying. We're hopeful he'll be ready for the first game."
Tuesday 29 May
France midfielder Samir Nasri believes his side need to improve their midfield before they face England at Euro 2012. The Manchester City player was talking after France struggled to a weekend win over Iceland, recovering from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2. Nasri's main concern is how they improve ahead of facing Roy Hodgson's side in the Group D match on 11 June. He said: "We leave ourselves exposed a lot with the system we have. We struggled to have enough cover in midfield. Our opponents found gaps to get through. We need to find the right balance if we line up the same way. "We knew this was a warm-up game with consequences for the matches to come and we showed our mental strength."
Friday 25 May
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli admits he has serious injury concerns ahead of Euro 2012, with worries that Riccardo Montolivo could miss out altogether. Italy have been drawn in the same group as reigning champions Spain, Croatia and Republic of Ireland and will be requiring their top players to battle in a tough group. Central midfielder Montolivo is in the very real danger of missing the competition altogether with a thigh strain and Prandelli has stated that he will not take players that are not fully fit. Prandelli said: "My worries surround the three or four players who are recovering from injury," he explained. "Montolivo is my biggest concern. I know him well, he wants to recover and is on the mend, but I still have doubts. "I want to leave for the tournament with certainties and no doubts. I don’t feel as if I can go to Euro 2012 with a few injured players."
Russia have been dealt another injury blow to their squad as defender Roman Shishkin was pulled from the squad after suffering from stomach complaints. The injury comes as a double blow after fellow defender Vasili Berezutski was forced to withdraw from the squad with a thigh injury. "Roman left the team because of gastrointestinal problems," said coach Dick Advocaat. "He has lost some weight and the prediction wasn't optimistic. He went back to Lokomotiv Moscow where the medical staff will take care of him." Russia begin their Euro 2012 campaign against Czech Republic on 8 June in Wroclaw.
Germany and Real Madrid playmaker Mesut Ozil has declared anything other than victory at Euro 2012 will represent "a disappointment." Germany’s young side have impressed under the management of Joachim Low receiving widespread acclaim for their style of play but have failed to acquire any silverware. Germany came close to European Championship success in 2008, losing to Spain in the final, but Ozil believes that his fellow countrymen can come out victorious over the defending champions this summer. "I have a good feeling," he said. "Our goal is the title, otherwise we wouldn't compete. We are getting ready here, and are totally focused on the tournament. "In 2008, Germany came second in the Euros, in the 2010 World Cup, we were bronze medalists. We have always failed just before the finish. It would be a disappointment to come second again. "But I'm convinced that we can do it!"
Poland defender Damien Perquis is still a doubt for the hosts after fracturing his elbow in March. The French-born centre-back who made his debut for the Poland national team against Germany last September faces an uphill challenge to be ready for the tournament. "No doubt about it, we are not sure whether Damien will be 100% fit," said Poland's fitness coach Remigiusz Rzepka. Perquis, 28, who plays his football in France for Sochaux-Montbeliard has been assured he will not e sent home from the 23-man squad for their friendly against Slovakia this weekend. Poland will be hoping the defender is available for the tournament opener against Greece in Warsaw on 8 June.
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has praised coach Laurent Blanc for his success in turning the team's fortunes around. France face England in the Group D opener on 11 June in Donetsk, Ukraine and Lyon keeper Lloris believes teh French are getting back to their best. He said: "It wasn't easy to start again after the World Cup and rebuild the team, but Laurent Blanc and his staff managed it." 'Les Bleus' had a disappointing tournament in South Africa, failing to get through the group stage and striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally attacking coach Raymond Domenech before the players infamously went on strike. Lloris, 25, added: "Laurent Blanc has brought us some confidence, some serenity through his experience as a coach and especially as a player". Blanc won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship two years later as a player and will look to become the first person to win the tournament both as a player and a manager.