Euro 2012: Power Ranking the Contenders from Group D

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Euro 2012: Power Ranking the Contenders from Group D
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Euro 2012's group stage has everyone talking about defending champion Spain and the "group of death" in Group B, but there are a few contenders to be aware of in Group D. Enough of this introduction stuff, let's get to power ranking Group D.

4. Ukraine

The Ukraine has some talented players like Bayern Munich's Anatoliy Tymoschuk and newcomer to the squad Andriy Voronin, but their division is simply full of more experienced and impressive nations.

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Coach Oleh Blokhin's team is currently ranked 54th in the world according to FIFA and because Ukraine is a host nation, it did not need to qualify for the European tournament.

The team has never qualified for a Euro or World Cup tournament and does not have the skill or star-power to overcome the likes of England and France.

3. Sweden

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Sweden's best finish in the Euro tournament came all the way back in 1992 when the team made the semi-finals, but the boot of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is something that has to instill hope in the nation's supporters.

Ibra has been the center piece for 2011 Serie A champion AC Milan the past few seasons, and with his knack for tallying up goals Sweden could steal a victory or two in the group stage.

The Swedes will have the easiest opening test in their group when they take on Blokhin's Ukraine team Friday, where they should be able to put three points in their column. Lyon's Kim Kallstrom should be able to feed Ibra a few nice passes that lead to goals.

While there are certainly aspects to this team that give them a punchers chance, it'll be a tough road out of Group D for the Swedes.

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2. England

The battle for who deserves the top spot in this group came down to which of the two favorites looked more impressive in the Group D opening match. England's defense was able to weather early flurries from Karim Benzema and company, but the Three Lions offense was nowhere to be found.

Aside from Joleon Lescott's header from Steven Gerrard, the English attack was absent from this contest, as France controlled the pace of the match.

With superstar Wayne Rooney suspended until the team's last group match, England will need to find a spark in Lescott or others up front if they wish to finish among the top two.

The issue for the English comes down to having to face Sweden without the decorated Manchester United player, who will only be available for arguably their easiest contest in the group stage against Ukraine.

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1. France

The French top the Group D power rankings due to their impressive personnel and the fact they were the superior team when they battled the Three Lions.

Regardless of the draw, Franck Ribery, Benzema and Samir Nasri kept the football on the English side of the pitch virtually all contest. That's about as deadly a group of playmakers as a nation can ask for.

As I've said about the Italians, the French have been overlooked heading into Euro 2012 largely due to their porous effort at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The problem for the other Group D teams is that that 2010 squad is not the team that showed up to Poland and the Ukraine.

With one point in hand already, France simply has to add three more with a victory over the Ukraine and they will be in the driver's seat. Unlike England, France has all their key personnel on-hand and the easier route to the top spot in Group D.

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