Northern Ireland and Ukraine will be looking to secure 3 points when it reaches 5 O’Clock Thursday afternoon in Parc OL, amongst the bustling city of Lyon, home to Olympique Lyonnais.
Both of these sides will be viewing this clash as their best chance at gaining 3 points from the group after suffering defeats to Poland and Germany respectively on the group’s first matchday. However, no goals have been scored in the last two meetings between these two sides, which has led to Northern Ireland having not beaten Ukraine in 4 attempts (Drawn 2, Lost 2). Ukraine have been known for their attacking intent, having won 12 corners in their game against Germany. Only Spain won more in the first round of group games with 14.
Northern Ireland- McGovern, McLaughlin,Evans, McNair, Ferguson, Dallas, Norwood, Davis, McGinn, Washington, Lafferty
Ukraine- Pyatov, Fedetskyi, Khacehridi, Kuchar, Shevchuk, Rotan, Tymoschuk, Konoplyanka, Yarmalenko, Harmash, Selezynov
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis will be crucial for his country tonight. With 3 points a must if they are to have any chance to push forward and qualify for the knockout stages, Davis will have to perform at his best if Northern Ireland are to play well. With the Southampton midfielder knowing full well what needs to be done under pressure, Davis has to handle full responsibility for his country tonight.
As well as Northern Ireland captain, the Ukraine captain and fellow midfielder Andriy Tymoschuk will be the one to watch tonight as he will try to drive his side toward victory. The deep-lying playmaker will need to snuffle out the threat of Davis and Norwood running from deep before setting the forwards onto counter attacks at speed.
This Euros has been an enjoyable one to watch so far this summer throughout the first round of group matches and I feel this will not be the one to provide the first 0-0 of the summer. Instead, I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw with Yarmolenko scoring around the hour mark and Conor Washington equalising for Northern Ireland with around 10 minutes to go.