Nineteenth-ranked Ukraine and 25th-ranked Northern Ireland will be trying to register their first points of the Euro 2016 competition when they meet each other at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in France on Thursday, June 15th. Northern Ireland dropped a 1-0 decision to 27th-ranked Poland in their first match while Ukraine was downed 2-0 by fourth-ranked and reigning world champions Germany. This is one of the toughest groups in the event and each point will be extremely valuable. The top two teams in each of the six groups will advance to the round-of-16 knockout stage and the top four third-place teams will join them.
Ukraine vs Northern Ireland – bet365 Soccer Betting Line:
- bet365 currently lists Ukraine as the favorites at 11/20 with Northern Ireland 6/1 and a draw at +29/10
Ukraine vs Northern Ireland – Head to Head:
- The teams last met in September of 2003 and played to a 0-0 draw in Ukraine in a Euro 2004 qualifier. The qualifier in Belfast also ended 0-0. They also met in 1998 World Cup qualifying with Ukraine winning 2-1 at home and 1-0 away. These have been the only four meetings between the nations with Ukraine winning two and drawing two and outscoring Northern Ireland 3-1.
Northern Ireland had a fine qualifying campaign for the European Championships as they finished first in their group with six victories, three draws and just one loss. They edged Romania by a point while third-place Hungary also reached the tournament by winning their playoff round. Northern Ireland has also had a good run-up to the event with draws in Slovakia and Wales in pre-tournament contests as well as home victories against Belarus and Slovenia. However, they ran into trouble against Poland in their opening Euro 2016 match and were beaten on a goal by Akradiusz Milik in the 51st minute. It was Northern Ireland’s first loss in a record 12 games.
Northern Ireland will be depending on Michael McGovern in goal with his backups being the aging veteran Roy Carroll and Alan McManus. The defense looks steady with Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird and Paddy McNair in the squad. However, the midfield looks to be a little weak. The forwards are also rather inexperienced and consist of Will Grigg, Kyle Lafferty, Conor Washington and Josh Magennis, with Lafferty being the veteran. However, Lafferty can’t be left all alone up front in a negative 4-5-1 formation if Northern Ireland hopes to score goals.
Ukraine didn’t fare too well in the qualifying group stage as they were beaten out by Spain and Slovakia. They were one of the best third-place teams though and managed to earn a spot at Euro 2016 by beating downing Slovenia 3-1 over two games on aggregate. Ukraine played well defensively in the qualifiers and allowed just four goals against in their 10 matches. They didn’t make it to the 2014 World Cup, but did reach the Euro 2012 event as co-hosts with Poland. However, they won just once and lost twice, failing to make it past the group stage.
Ukraine played four pre-tournament games this year and managed to win all of them. They beat Wales and Cyprus at home and then downed Romania 4-3 and Albania 3-1 on the road. Andriy Pyatov, Denys Boyko and Mykyta Shevchenko are the three goalies in France with the forwards being Pylyp Budkovskyi, Roman Zozulya and Yevhen Seleznyov. The majority of the squad plays in the domestic Ukraine league with one or two of them playing in Russia and Spain. They played relatively well against Germany but were beaten on goals by Shkodran Mustafi in the 19th minute and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 92nd.