Euro 2012 Schedule: Matches That Will Be Wide-Open Affairs

Jon SiddowayCorrespondent IJune 19, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02:  Wayne Rooney and James Milner of England applaud the fans after the international friendly match between England and Belgium at Wembley Stadium on June 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Tuesday marks the last day of group play in what has been an entertaining and unpredictable Euro 2012. Pre-tournament favorites Germany and Spain won their respective groups, but Netherlands and Croatia—ranked No. 4 and No. 8 in FIFA's world rankings, respectively—are both eliminated.

It's been a tournament filled with drama, passionate fans, brilliant goals, fine saves, theatrical flops and questionable calls. All the ingredients of another memorable Euro Cup. 

But the recurring theme is, undoubtedly, the element of surprise.

Here are three matches that will continue the trend and be wide-open affairs.  

 

Ukraine vs. England

When: June 18, 2:45 p.m. ET 

Co-host Ukraine cling to a chance to advance and England welcome back Wayne Rooney—after serving a two-game suspension—in what is sure to be a thriller.

The Three Lions fared well in the striker's absence, but are glad to welcome him back. His speed and tenacity up front will test a shaky Ukraine defense.

A raucous crowd, however, can propel the home team. As does the health of aging captain Andriy Shevchenko.  

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 15:  Joe Hart of England clashes with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden (10) as Olof Mellberg (2R) scores their second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group D match between Sweden and England at The Olympic Stadium on June 15, 2012 in Kiev,
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Prediction: England 1-1 Ukraine

 

Sweden vs. France

When: June 18, 2:45 p.m. ET

At first glance, France—with four points in group play, compared to Sweden's zero—is the easy choice here. But there is no such thing as easy in Euro 2012. 

Sweden, already eliminated, are playing for national pride, something you can never underestimate. A win would be used as a launchpad toward World Cup 2014.  

Expect both Group D finales on Tuesday to be closely contested, and Sweden to pull off the upset. 

Prediction: France 1-2 Sweden 

 

Portugal vs. Czech Republic

When: June 21, 2:45 p.m. ET

One of only two quarterfinal matches already set—the other, Germany vs. Greece—this can go either way.

Portugal survived the "Group of Death" and are gaining momentum at the right time. Backed by two Cristiano Ronaldo goals, they eliminated Netherlands 2-1 and now face a confident Czech Republic side.

After a 1-4 defeat in the opener, the Czech's rebounded with consecutive wins over Greece and Poland to win Group A. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky has returned to Prague for treatment on an Achilles tendon and his return to the lineup is doubtful. His creativity on the attack will be missed.  

Prediction: Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic