Ukraine and Poland meet in the final fixture of Group C at Stade Velodrome on Tueday, June 21. Contrasting campaigns place these two sides at opposite ends of the table and expectations. While Ukraine are already knocked out of the competition, Poland is in with a shot of finishing top of the group depending on the result of Northern Ireland – Germany match.
Ukraine were never considered to be in with a great chance of making the knockouts but were expected to run the top guns closer than what they did so far. Their group opener against Germany saw them stretch the World champions and even had better chances of taking the lead. Had it not been for Manuel Neur in the German goal and a goal-line clearance from Jerome Boateng, the result could have been entirely different. In the end the 2-0 score line didn’t entirely justify their performance but with no points to back, Ukraine were on the back foot after the first game. Their misery was completed by Northern Ireland with Ukraine slipping to another 2-0 loss and tumbling out of the tournament at the first opportunity.
With nothing but pride to play for, Ukraine will find it difficult to rise above the dejection and challenge Poland. They can still have a role in deciding the future of Poland and the automatic qualifiers from the group but on current form Ukraine looks far away from being a deciding force.
Poland were expected to be one of the top teams in Euro 2016 and challenge for top spot from their group. Their performances aren’t of the top drawer though they are still in control of their destiny with four points from two games that keep them in second position in the group. They started with a narrow 1-0 win over a spirited Northern Ireland in a performance that hasn’t done complete justice to their potential. But they couldn’t build up on the win and ended up with a tame goal less draw against Germany. Although the best chances of the match fell to the Polish, they couldn’t pull away from the world champions. A point suited both the teams but Poland should be slightly disappointed at not doing that extra bit to win full points.
Luckily for them, they need just one point from the last fixture to confirm their knock-out berth while a victory could help them push for the top spot. With Ukraine already eliminated, Poland could aim for full points and put pressure on Germany.
Ukraine had a great run-in to the tournament but two consecutive losses ended their hopes. They have won six of their last ten encounters but that counts for little before this game as they may find it difficult to lift themselves beyond the gloom. But, with nothing more to lose – they are primed for gunning a surprise.
Poland lost only one of their last ten encounters that included six wins. Their goal scoring could be an issue with just one goal so far in the tournament. If they can utilize this game for improving their goal scoring record, it will keep them in good stead for the tough matches that lie in waiting.
Key players and team news
There aren’t any enforced changes for Ukraine but they might try to utilize this game for testing their bench strength. A change to their system could be on cards as well as they may go for a more attacking system.
Poland will still be without the injured Wojcjech Szczesny which means another game for Lukasz Fabianski. Highly rated teenager Bartosz Kapustka was pushed to the bench against Germany but could be called back into the starting line-up for this encounter.
Ukraine are yet to score a goal in this tournament, which is a far cry from their record in the friendlies preceding the tournament. Eight of their previous ten encounters ended with under 2.5 goals which points to another low scoring encounter.
Poland’s failure to open scoring against Germany was just the second instance in their last ten matches. Usually a high scoring side, six of their previous ten matches ended with over 2.5 goals.
It is difficult to look beyond a Poland win. Robert Lewandowski is due for a good outing too which means there can be goals from the superstar.
Poland to win at odds of 2.0 with Betfred.