Ukraine v Northern Ireland – Stade de Lyon at 17:00 live on ITV
It’s the second match in Group C tomorrow evening between the group underdogs, Ukraine and Northern Ireland. Having both suffered defeat in their opening matches, both sides will be keen to get 3 points on the board and significantly boost their chances of making to the last 16.
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The Ukraine suffered a 2-0 reverse at the hands of the world champions Germany in their first match of the tournament, which was pretty much expected. Germany certainly weren’t at their best but the Ukrainians failed to capitalise. They played well in spells and if it wasn’t for the excellent Manuel Neuer making some superb saves and a goal line clearance from Boateng, they would have nicked a goal. Ifs and buts mean nothing though after a defeat and they have to pick themselves up.
They will certainly be more confident for tomorrow’s match and with a record of just 3 defeats in their last 19 outings, they are tough side to beat. They have also never been beaten by Northern Ireland.
Defensively they are strong and organised and have a decent keeper in Andriy Pyatov. I doubt they will be too worried about the Northern Irish attacking threat either after they managed just 2 shots in their 90 minutes against Poland, neither on target.
Norn Iron were beaten 1-0 by Poland in their opener, putting in a typically strong and compact defensive performance but had nothing going forward. They don’t have any players who can turn the game on it’s head with a bit of genius, or any individuals in attack that would really scare any team.
They qualified for these finals playing a tight, organised game, looking to nick the odd goal on the counter or set piece. Their best chance against Ukraine will be from a corner or free kick, but it’s going to be hard finding the back on the net again tomorrow. However, with their strong rear-guard, they have a good chance getting something out of the game and I think they have been underestimated.
Ukraine are the better side, there is no doubt about that, but going into the game as 1.57 favourties is just too short in my opinion.
The defences will dominate in this one and a low scoring affair is on the cards. Under 2.25 goals is worth a punt at 1.83 but there is also some value in backing Northern Ireland on the Asian Handicap betting market.
I think Michael O’Neill’s men can get something out of this game and I’m surprised to see the Asian Handicap line +1 at 1.85. If Norn Iron avoid defeat it’s a win and a loss by a single goal we’ll get our money back.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Northern Ireland +1 at 1.85 with Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker
Prices correct at time of writing.