Two teams that have underperformed heavily in recent years meet on Sunday, as Netherlands host Ukraine for their opening Euro 2020 game. Both countries enter the tournament in fine form which suggests an intriguing clash, but they’ll also have to fight it out with Austria and North Macedonia in a well-balanced Group C.
Where and when: Johan Cruyff Arena – 13 June, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Netherlands vs. Ukraine: BT Sport
Last time: Ukraine and Netherlands have never met in an official game and their last encounter was a friendly that took place more than a decade ago. The game was played at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk back in 2010 and ended in a 1-1 draw.
Netherlands v Ukraine Predictions and Preview
Both Netherlands in Ukraine failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 and were heavily criticized for that. However, both countries have progressed ever since and Euro 2020 is seen as an opportunity for a fresh start.
After the World Cup disaster, Netherlands bounced back with a solid Euro qualifying campaign, led by the current Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman. Germany topped their group, but second place was enough to secure qualification for the tournament this summer.
However, the ride has been far from smooth as captain Virgin Van Dijk suffered a season-ending injury, while Donny Van De Beek also had a last-minute injury, so both are ruled out and Frank De Boer will have only 25 players to choose from, instead of the allowed 26.
Nevertheless, Netherlands are tipped as 1/3 favorites to win Group C, where besides Ukraine, we also find Austria and Goran Pandev’s North Macedonia. It’s easy to see way Netherlandsy are favorites, as they’ve only lost to Portugal, Italy and Turkey in the last two years.
However, at the same time they have been shaky many times and this was evident in the 4-2 defeat to Turkey that took place in March, as well as the 2-2 draw against Scotland on June 2.
The likes of Patrick Kluivert, Robin Van Persie, Ruud Van Nistelroy and Klaas Jan Huntelaar were leading the line in the past, but now this responsibility lies with Memphis Depay, who has been the standout performer up front. He will be supported by Seviila’s Luuk de Jong and Wolfsburg’s Wout Weghorst, but none of them fall in the category of prolific international goalscorers.
De Boer has been rotating between formations in search of a solution but at this stage his best setup still seems unclear. The former Ajax defender has so far used 3-5-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 with mixed results.
Although, not as flashy as in previous generations, the midfield has been the focal point of the team with the likes of Frankie De Jong, Davy Classen, Marten De Roon and Georginio Wijnaldum all working well together.
Van Dijk’s absence was a huge blow in defense, so Matthijs De Ligt and Daily Blind will have to do the job, while Stefan De Vrij and Nathan Ake also have the needed quality. In goal Norwich City’s Tim Krul has been the undisputed Number 1 and he’s done a descent job since De Boer took over.
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Netherlands to win and BTTS
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Depay to score first
On the other hand, Andiry Shevchenko has also had a turbulent ride ever since taking over from Mykhaylo Fomenko back in 2016. Many asked for the former AC Milan striker to be sacked after failing to qualify for the World Cup , but Ukraine stuck with him and Sheva is proving his worth.
Ukraine were hugely impressive and topped their Euro qualifying group that also included current European champions Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg and Lithuania. This was seen as a huge success, as Ukraine failed to qualify for the last three World Cups and were eliminated in the group stage at both Euro 2012 and 2016.
A 2-1 victory against Portugal and a 5-0 thrashing of Serbia were the highlights of Ukraine’s qualification campaign that saw them score 17 goals and concede only four.
However, Shevchenko’s men failed to replicate this form in 2020 when they registered six defeats out of eight games. This led to a disappointing relegation in the Nations League, but as of today Ukraine is on a six-games unbeaten run and is yet to lose a game in 2021.
36-years-old Shakhtar Donetsk goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov continues in goal, while Andiry Yarmolenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Taras Stepanenko are all regulars in the team.
At the same time the likes of Viktor Tsyhankov (23), Oleksandr Zinchenko (24), Viktor Kovalenko (25) and Ruslan Malinovskiy (28) form a core of young and very capable players.
Zinchenko has emerged as a surprising leader in midfield, although he features at left-back for Manchester City. His tidy passing and vision mean that Ukraine are more than capable of holding their own in the group, so you can place a bet on them to beat Netherlands at 5/1.
One to watch for Netherlands: Memphis Depay has been in good form lately, scoring five goals in the last three games for his country. Depay broke the deadlock in Netherlands’ last friendly against Georgia, so if you want to place a bet on him to do the same against Ukraine you can do that at 7/2 with William Hill
One to watch for Ukraine: Andiry Yarmolenko is 17/2 to score the opener against Netherlands and his two goals in Ukraine’s last game against Cyprus suggest he would be a good choice. The West Ham man is Ukraine second-highest goalscorer with 40 goals, trailing only behind his coach Andiry Shevchenko.
Long shot: Ruslan Malinovskiy has been in fantastic form for Atalanta this season, as the left-footed midfielder hit double-figures in both goals and assists for the Serie A outfit. The 28-year-old is a sharp-shooter, so if you are looking for big odds and don’t think Depay or Yarmolenko will open the score on Sunday, you can bet on Malinovskiy to do that at 20/1.