Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin is a Ukrainian legend and he hopes that image will be further embellished with a successful campaign by the Euro 2012 co-host starting with his side's Group ‘D' match against Sweden on Monday.

While France vs England is the glamour clash of the group both the sides battling it out here realise a decisive result in their opener would give the winner a great chance of progressing to the last eight at the expense of the French or the English.

Blokhin, who was an outstanding player winning the European Footballer of the year accolade in 1975 when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union, has not had the best of results in the run-in to the championship but the 59-year-old believes they are irrelevant.

Another Ukrainian football icon Andrei Shevchenko may be a shadow of the player that once terrorised top European club defences but another of his 2006 World Cup veterans midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is still an effective force.

The long-haired midfielder is brimming with confidence.

Tough task

“It's a very tough task but I'm accustomed to ask for the impossible, it's a chance to obtain the maximum,” he added, pointing to the example of the Greek side which unexpectedly won the 2004 European championship.

Tymoshchuk, a member of the outstanding Zenit Saint Petersburg side that won the 2008 UEFA Cup trophy, will be required to marshal the younger generation of players coming through such as the promising Russian-born Dynamo Kiev midfielder Andriy Yarmolenko.

Blokhin, though, realises that his side is under the extra pressure of being the co-host and he has been doing everything in his powers to give it all the background on its opponents to alleviate some of the pressure.

“Of course I am excited — I don't know how I am going to sleep before the match. Before the match with Turkey I slept like a baby.

“But now I'll doubtless be watching videos through the night,” he smiled.

Star Wars

For his national side, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) does not play as a conventional centre-forward but instead a slightly withdrawn attacker — almost a No. 10 — behind Johan Elmander (provided he's fit). As the focal point of Sweden's attack, this allows him greater influence on play; otherwise he is bound to be isolated all on his own as a striker. Ibrahimovic starts from deep positions — midfield even — and runs at defenders rather than play with his back to them. In those very areas against Ukraine, he will come up against the seasoned Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (right). The 33-year-old may have started the Champions League final at centre back for Bayern Munich but he is originally a defensive midfielder. Tymoshchuk will play just in front of the back four — whoever they may be for Oleg Blokhin's line-ups are notoriously unpredictable — and will seek to tie Ibrahimovic down. While he cannot match his adversary for pace, Tymoshchuk can tackle well. It could be a contest decisive to the outcome of the fixture. — Shreedutta Chidananda

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