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Ukraine will have to make a big improvement on their performance five years ago at Euro 2016 if they’re to advance from this group. They lost all three group matches to Germany, Northern Ireland and Poland without scoring a single goal.
However, since Andriy Shevchenko took over following that dismal campaign they have gone from strength to strength and topped their qualification group consisting of Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg and Lithuania, as they went unbeaten and even beat the Portuguese 2-1 in Kyiv back in October 2019.
The main concern for this Dutch outfit is the tutelage of Frank de Boer. Since the manager came in to replace Ronald Koeman in September last year, he’s gone just W5-D4-L2 from his 11 outings.
That looks more impressive than it actually is, with four of those victories coming against Bosnia, Latvia, Gibraltar and Georgia, while the other victory came against a lacklustre Polish outfit in the midst of their current run of W1-D3-L3.
Ukraine To Win Or Draw
Furthermore, against the more competitive teams, Oranje have gone W3-D3-L5 from their 11 outings since the start of 2019, as two of those victories came over Poland, while the other was against a German side in the middle of a huge transition.
They were either all-square or trailing at the break in each of those, being behind in seven, including each of the last three. In fact, three defeats from their five such home matches over that period is worrying, and they could have their work cut out in this opener.
HT/FT – Draw/Ukraine
The Ukrainians having won two of their six unbeaten matches this year, conceding just four goals across them, while they beat both Northern Ireland and Cyprus in the build up to the Euros this month.
They’re W4-D3-L4 against the more competitive teams in qualifiers and Nations League matches since the start of 2019 (France once as well as Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland, Germany and Spain all twice), trailing at the break in just four of those and drawing their only such trip this year at current tournament favourites France (1-1).
To add insult to injury, the Dutch squad looks to have already been depleted with both Donny van der Beek and Matthijs de Ligt being major doubts for this crucial opening encounter.
They do have admirable replacements, but when you couple the absence of the latter with that of Virgil van Dijk, it can only play against them in this one.