Northern Ireland takes on Ukraine at the Parc OL, Lyon, in what will be a “make or break” game in this Group C encounter. Both the teams enter the match with no points in their kitty, with Ukraine losing their opening match to Germany 2-0 while a solitary goal saw Poland overcome Northern Ireland.
A win in this match will be absolutely crucial for both the teams, as it’ll keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the knockout stages of the tournament. Meanwhile, a loss or a draw can potentially end their chances of progessing any further.
Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland side lost to Poland 1-0 in their opening match of Euro 2016, and will look to bounce back with a win against Ukraine. They were disappointing in their opening match, as Poland dominated most of the game. And now it leaves them looking desperately for a win against Ukraine to stand a chance of finishing at least third in the group and still qualify, thanks to the new tournament format, where four third-placed sides in their respective groups will qualify for the last 16.
In spite of their loss in the tournament, opener, they will look to take inspiration from the fact that it was their only defeat in 13 games. Kyle Lafferty, their seven-goal top scorer in qualifying, will look to trouble the Ukranian defense. The Norwich striker, who underperformed against Poland, will look to make amends as he is set to lead Northern Ireland’s attacking line.
Michael O'Neill might consider changing the formation to a 3-5-2 to attack Ukraine and Lafferty can be afforded a new striking partner in the form of either Conor Washington or Jamie Ward. United players, Paddy McNair and alongside veteran Jonny Evans are expected to start at the back for the Irish, and will be looking to keep out Ukraine’s main attacking threat, Yevhen Konoplyanka.
Chris Baird is slated to anchor the midfield, supported by their captain, Steven Davis. Northern Ireland will be hoping to strike the perfect balance in their playing 11 to get the all-important win over Ukraine.
Ukraine lost their opening game to one of the tournament favourites Germany. The World Cup winners dominated the match, but the Ukranian players will take heart from some good patches of football they played against the world champions.
Ukraine will now have to concentrate on their two remaining fixtures against Northern Ireland and Poland, both of whom are ranked below them in FIFA World Rankings. Ukraine’s main threat moving forward will be Yevhen Konoplyanka, who will look to cut inside and shoot at the Northern Ireland goal.
The Sevilla man will be the key man for his team, and alongside Andriy Yarmolenko, Ukraine will the duo will trouble the opponent’s defense. Yehven Khacheridi and Rakitskiy will be at the heart of their defence, while Fedetskiy and Shevchuk are expected to start as full-backs, and push up the field to attack the Northern Ireland goal. Ukraine can concentrate now on their two remaining fixtures against Northern Ireland and Poland, both of whom are ranked below them in FIFA World Rankings.
With both the teams looking for a win, expect Northern Ireland and Ukraine to play some aggressive football. This match will go a long way in either team’s pursuit to finish in the top two of Group C, or at least finish third. The match promises to be a cracker.
Northern Ireland’s Kyle Lafferty is completely fit for the match against Ukraine, after picking up a groin injury in the warm-up matches of the tournament and is expected to start.
Ukraine meanwhile has a completely fit squad.
Northern Ireland (4-4-1-1): McGovern, Cathcart, McAuley, Evans, McLaughlin, McNair, Baird, Norwood, Ferguson, Davis, Lafferty.
Ukraine (4-2-3-1): Pyatov, Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk, Ngcongca, Stepanenko, Yarmolenko, Kovalenko, Konoplyanka, Zozulya.
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Date and Time: June 16, 2016 – 09:30 PM (IST)
Live Telecast: Live telecast on Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD.
Venue: Parc OL, Lyon.
Live Stream info: Live stream will be on http://euro2016.sonyliv.com/