England, England: so many of your countrymen start out enthused; so many end up disappointed. Will this year be different? I was concerned that Wayne Rooney's suspension for two of the three group matches would be disatrous. The first game for which he'll be eligible is against Ukraine and depending on how well they do in the first two, his return may be critical to their advancing. Please share your thoughts as to who will start in his place. I believe it will be Danny Welbeck. I'm a little surprised by Daniel Sturridge's absence The ongoing debate over whether Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard can play together effectively has been mooted by Lampard's injury and the rest of the midfield offers speed (Theo Walcott), skill on the ball (Gerrard and Ashley Young) and Scott Parker anchoring the central midfield. I believe their defense is only slightly diminished by Gary Cahill's absence (I don't know much about Martin Kelly, his replacement) and Joe Hart should put an end to the goalkeeping horror show of WC 2010. France will clearly benefit from having a new coach who, unlike Raymond Domenech doesn't rely on astrology for team selection. Karim Benzema should be the lone striker with Florent Malouda, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri also guiding the attack, Yohan Cabaye anchoring the midfield with Yann M'Vila. I'm not sure who will be in the back four, I'm guessing Phillippe Mexes, Laurent Koscielny Patrice Evra and perhaps Adil Rami. Hugo Lloris remains as the keeper. I have to plead ignorance on much of Sweden's lineup. I'm most familiar with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of course, but was surprised to see that Olof Mellberg is still playing in central defense at 34. Johan Elmander should pair well with Zlata, but any success for Sweden will depend on Zlata: if he does well he may be able to carry the team out of the group. Here's a stray thought: the next time the execrable Jim Rome decides to trash this sport, I hope he does so while interviewing Zlata. I'm half-Ukrainian, but I feel safe in saying that if they weren't co-host, Ukraine would have not been involved in this competition. They had a goal differential of zero in their last ten friendlies, losing by 4 goals to the Czech Republic and 3 to France. Andriy Shevchenko will start at forward at 35. I hear good things about Ruslan Rotan and Andriy Yarmolenko in midfield, but I have yet to see them play. Indeed, I have seen few of the Ukraine players in action, but I don't expect much from this group. Look to England and France to go through, although if Zlata plays well, Sweden may pose a threat.