Euro 2016: Ukraine vs Northern Ireland - 5 players to watch out for
With third place up for grabs in an otherwise tough group, expect both teams to go all out for a victory
For Ukraine and Northern Ireland, nothing has changed really. Both the teams would not have expected to garner much against Germany and Poland respectively, but spirited showings from both the teams will increase the hopes of supporters, expecting their teams to do more than just make up the numbers.
For large swathes of the game against Germany, Ukraine looked a spirited and lively unit, constantly threatening the German goal with fast counter-attacks down the flanks. Indeed, were it not for Manuel Neuer in goal and some goal-line heroics from Jerome Boateng, Ukraine would not have returned from the match empty handed.
Northern Ireland also put up a good fight against Poland. They managed to keep the main attacking threat of the Poles, Robert Lewandowski, relatively quiet all night. A solitary goal from Arek Milik and some good defending saw Poland bag all three points.
Thursday’s match between Ukraine and Northern Ireland might very well decide who bags the coveted 3rd position in the group. With changes in the format of the tournament, 4 best 3rd place finishers will progress to the next round.
Here we showcase 5 players who might play a decisive role for their respective teams on Thursday.
#1 Andriy Yarmolenko
Yarmolenko is by far the most well-known of all the current Ukrainian players, having been the subject of a lot of transfer speculation over the past one year. On his day, the mercurial winger can dazzle the best of defences with his mazy dribbling.
He is fast, a good crosser of the ball and excellent as an outlet for teams who play on the counter. Yarmolenko has recently been in the spotlight having kicked out at international teammate Taras Stepanenko in a heated match against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian league.
Disciplinary issues aside, the winger remains a coveted attacking asset and will pose the biggest challenge to the Northern Ireland defence come Thursday.