Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Sweden's chances of progressing from Group D will likely be heavily dependent on the performances of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Reuters

When and where: The Euro 2012 Group D match kicks-off from Kiev's Olimpiysky Stadium at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.

Preview: Euro 2012's other co-hosts, Ukraine, get their long-waited campaign underway against Sweden on Monday. Expectations are low after some less than convincing results in friendlies, but, on home soil, Ukraine could yet spring a surprise or two.

Key to their hopes will be experienced midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. The Bayern Munich man performs a vital role in front of the back four allowing the side's creative players to exercise influence in advanced roles.

Chief among those threats going forward is Andriy Yarmolenko. Once called the new Andriy Shevchenko, the 22-year-old has adapted to become a potent threat from out wide. In these championships, the Dynamo Kiev man is expected to be used cutting in from the left, where he has looked good in Ukraine's warm-up matches. On the other side, fellow 22-year-old Yevheniy Konoplyanka can also hurt the opposition with his technical and inventive abilities.

Ukraine's problems are likely to come at the back where their leading defender, and former Barcelona man, Dmytro Chygrynsky will miss the tournament through injury.

There is plenty of experience in the dugout, where Ukraine have turned once more to Oleg Blokhin, the man who led them to the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup. Blokhin's chief challenge maybe to unite a squad in danger of being split due to the fierce rivalry between the country's leading clubs Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk.

In contrast Sweden will be led by a man in charge at a major tournament for the first time in Erik Hamren. After the long reign of Lars Lagerback, Sweden is likely to surprise a few people with the more attractive possession game encouraged by the Rosenborg coach.

The likely central midfield partnership of veteran Anders Svensson and Kim Kallstrom are far from dogged battlers and are instead both comfortable on the ball. On the left Sweden also have a potential rising star in Rasmus Elm, while on the other flank Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson is always a threat with his delivery, particularly from set pieces.

Much of the narrative in the build-up has centered on how to get the best out of the brilliant Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It had even been suggested that the Swedish side performed better without the dominant presence of the Milan forward. But Hamren appears to have found a way to maximize the influence of the phenomenally skilled Ibrahimovic by deploying him in a No. 10 role behind a main striker.

Regular first-choice front man Johan Elmander looks to have recovered from injury in time to face Ukraine, but Hamren may stick with Ola Toivonen, after his goal-scoring performance in the final warm-up game against Serbia.

Ukraine (probable, 4-1-3-1-1)

G: Pyatov

D: Gusev, Mykhalik, Khacheridi, Selin

M: Tymoshchuk

Yarmolenko, Nazarenko, Konoplyanka

F: Voronin


Sweden (probable, 4-4-1-1)

G: Isaksson

D: Lustig, Granqvist, Mellberg, Olsson

M: Larsson, Svensson, Kallstrom, Elm

F: Ibrahimovic


Prediction: With both sides having problems at the back and ample creativity going forward this could prove to be one of the more entertaining early matches. There could also be an interesting duel between Oleg Gusev, a converted winger now operating at right-back, and the exciting Elm. Unless Gusev is capable of forcing Elm back then Sweden could get some real joy out of the AZ Alkmaar man down their left flank.

Sweden have more quality, particularly if Ibrahimovic plays close to his potential, but home advantage should carry Ukraine to an opening draw.

Ukraine 2-2 Sweden