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(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Co-hosts Ukraine will get the Euro 2012 campaign underway when they play Sweden in Kiev on Monday evening.
Ukraine will be playing at only their second major championships and go into the tournament on the back of six defeats in their last 11 games.
A bout of food poisoning in the build-up to their opening game makes team selection unclear, but Anatoliy Tymoschuk is expected to play in a shielding central midfield role, with the two wingers expected to get up in support of attacking players Andrei Voronin and Andrei Shevchenko - and the former AC Milan and Chelsea star Shevchenko is glad that the waiting is finally over.
"I'm very happy that the championship is about to begin and that the supporters all over the world and in Ukraine will be able to see it," said the Ukraine captain. "The month before the Euros starts is always quite hard because it's a time for training and preparations and everyone is nervous.
"The closer you get to the game, the more nervous you become since there is no more time left for training. All you can do then is concentrate on the things you have learned and get yourself ready. For me this is the most exciting time - the time of slight nervousness and concentration before the game.
"I am actually very calm and relaxed. My experience of 18 years as a professional helps me a lot here. I hope I will be ready physically and that there will be no problems. That is what worries me the most. I would very much like to perform at a high level at home with support of our fans and my friends and family so that I can leave a final mark with the national team."
With France and England the favourites to progress to the knockout stages from Group D, Sweden fancy their chances of springing an upset after a qualifying campaign that saw them reach Euro 2012 as the best runners-up.
In contrast to the solid Sweden teams of recent tournaments, the 2012 vintage play some great attacking football, starting at the back where the full-backs love to get forward. Kim Kallstrom and Anders Svensson will keep things ticking over in the centre, with the two wide players expected to get up in support of the striker - probably Johan Elmander if fit.
That formation would cause most international teams trouble, and allows freedom for star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic to float in a dangerous number ten role - but coach Erik Hamren insists that it is not all about the AC Milan forward.
"He is a world-class player which everyone sees and recognises, and when he plays well he can be one who adds that little bit extra," said Hamren. "But it doesn't matter whether Zlatan is in top form if the rest of us aren't. For me as a coach, it's a big challenge to get everyone at their best at the same time. That's where our opportunity lies. If we are at our best, we can beat any team, as we showed in qualifying, against the Netherlands for example.
"It's not enough to just have Zlatan in top form: it has to be all of us. We know we are not dependent on any single player - we can score goals, we can win matches, even though, in some matches during qualification, we didn't have Ibrahimovic, or Olof Mellberg. They are the two best players in the Swedish team. They have been away a few times because of injuries and suspensions and still, we were successful without them as well. That's proof that we have a good group."
The other teams in Group D are France and England, who player earlier on Monday evening in Donetsk.
Updated June 9, 2012