Germany and Ukraine will go head to head in the second Group C match of Euro 2016 on Sunday evening!
After the Euro 2016 draw, Germany were priced up as favourites to win the prestigious competition. Their journey to the final will begin with Ukraine, who won’t make it easy for the German’s and should provide a stern test.
Germany v Ukraine | Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille | Sunday 12 June | 20:00
To Win Match
Germany 6/10 | Draw 28/10 | Ukraine 9/2
Joachim Low and Germany weren’t the top team in qualifying, but the reigning World Cup champions will still be the favourites in France. It will be a record 12th consecutive appearance in the European Championships for the Germans, who have hosted the cup three times in the history of the tournament. A 2-0 defeat by Poland was their first in a qualifying campaign for nearly seven years.
Another loss in Ireland meant they only narrowly topped Group D. Germany haven’t won the tournament since 1996, and did not advance past the group stage in both 2000 and 2004. Neither of those runs included Toni Kroos or Thomas Muller, who both joined the senior team before the 2010 World Cup.
During the qualifying round, Muller led Germany with nine goals while Kroos completed more passes (1007) than any other individual. Now that Philipp Lahm has retired, his successor as captain, Bastian Schweinsteiger, is beginning to look over the hill. But Low will have new toys to play with in France.
Germany continues to produce exciting young players. Low will also be delighted to have Dortmund's Marco Reus, who missed the World Cup success through injury. Another magician on the ball is Mesut Ozil – the Arsenal playmaker was a nominated for Player of the Season after what was one of his personal best campaigns in recent years. His ball control and vision is second to none and he will play a vital role if Germany are to go all the way.
Aside from four years ago, when they appeared automatically as co-hosts (and went out at the group stage), Ukraine have never made it to a European Championship through qualifying. To do so, they needed a playoff against Slovenia and didn't put it beyond doubt until a stoppage-time goal in the second leg.
However, Ukraine are not to be underestimated. After five defeats in qualifying play-offs, they finally held their nerve to beat Slovenia 3-1 on aggregate – with Andriy Yarmolenko netting twice. They finished third in Group C, failing to score against automatic qualifiers Spain and Slovakia.
They ran Spain close in Seville and then in Kiev where, but for David De Gea, they might have got something from the game. Andriy Shevchenko has retired, but Yevhen Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko are wingers who no defence will relish playing against.
Ukraine had never qualified as a free country before Euro 2016, but was in Euro 2012 as a host and provided many players in the mid-1980s USSR team. They had a good defensive record in qualifying (conceding five times in 12 games), and will try to frustrate opponents and capitalize on the flair provided by Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko.
Verdict: Germany 6/10
Ukraine worked hard to get to this stage of the competition, and should give Germany a run for their money. However, they are winless in the last six meetings against the Germans and are tipped to fall short once again. Back the world champions to start Euro 2016 with a win.
Written by Aaron Crowie for @Hollywoodbets.