Ukraine and North Macedonia will battle each other out in the second round of Euro 2021 group stage.
The game kick starts today at the National Arena Stadium. Both teams tasted defeat in their first game of the tournament, but both can hold their heads high since there were many positives to take from those games. Ukraine fought back to draw level withNetherlands
, only to have their hearts broken by a late goal from Dumfries. North Macedonia also put on a good performance against Austria and scored their first ever European Championship goal on their debut at the tournament.
A draw will not do either of the team's any good as they still have a chance to reach the knock-out stage. It is expected to be a mouth-watering clash between two different styles of football.
Ukraine had a an embarrassing campaign in the 2016 European Championships, where they failed to score any goals and finished last in their group belowGermany
, Poland and Northern Ireland. They failed to reach the 2018 World Cup and are hoping to have a good campaign this year.
For North Macedonia, any result is considered positive since it is their first ever participation in a big international event. In the qualifiers, they finished third behind Poland and Austria, but reached the tournament via the Europa Nations League and after winning their play-off game against Georgia.
qualified for Euro 2020 comfortably after winning their group (ahead of Portugal, Serbia and Luxemburg) with 20 points from 8 games. Their best result was a 5-0 win in their home game against Serbia and their only two draws were against Portugal (0-0) and Serbia (2-2).
Guided by the countries former superstar and Ballon d'Or winner, Andrey Shevchenko, Ukraine has many top class players in their squad. Oleksandr Zinchenko had an almost perfect season with Manchester City and won two titles as well as reaching the Champions League final. West ham's Andriy Yarmolenko also had a good season and started the 2021 Euro with a beautiful goal against the Netherlands.
Ukraine defender, Mykola Matviyenko highlighted the importance of winning the game and praised Macedonia's talisman, Guran Pandev.
"It's a must-win for us, and we'll do our best to get three points. Pandev is a very experienced footballer who has played in some very good teams. It's obvious he is a high-class player; he controls the ball well. He's showed how well he can play at this tournament."
is the happiest team of the tournament as there are experiencing a fairy-tale since it is their first ever participation in the European Championships. They are hungry to show their quality in the biggest stage of European football and almost forced Austria into a draw in their first game, before conceding two late goals in a 3-1 defeat.
Macedonia's evergreen veteran striker and captain, Guran Pandev is the team's key player. The 37-years old Genoa forward guided his country to the tournament and scored their first ever goal in the European Championship history in the game against Austria.
North Macedonia forward, Aleksandar Trajkovski urged his teammates to fight until the end and make their fans proud.
"This team will never surrender. We will fight to the end, then we will see what happens. We will not give up; we will fight to get through the group and make everyone back at home proud enough to take to the streets."
Ukraine will need to win against Euro 2020's lowest-ranked side North Macedonia if they are to keep their hopes of securing a top-two finish in Group C alive. They are on a run of four draws (all of them 1-1), two wins and one loss (Against the Netherlands) in their last seven games. They have been shaky at defense and have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 9 games.
Ukraine possible starting lineup:
Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matviyenko, Mykolenko; Zinchenko, Sydorchuk, Malinovskyi;Yarmolenko
, Yaremchuk, Tsygankov
North Macedonia come into the match on high spirit and good form. They are on a run of three wins, two draws and two defeats in their last seven games. They even shocked Germany with a 2-1 win at the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
North Macedonia possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; S Ristovski, Musliu, D Velkovski, Alioski; Nikolov, Ademi, Bardi; Elmas,Pandev
Ukraine have a good record against North Macedonia and have won two out of four games played between the two teams. North Macedonia have managed only one victory against Ukraine and will want to even the scales on Thursday.
The previous meeting between the two teams took place in 2015 and ended in a comfortable 2-0 victory for Ukraine. North Macedonia have improved over the years and will be intent on making a statement this week.
A draw in today's game will be historic for North Macedonia, while Ukraine desperately needs to win if they want to reach the knock-out stage. Ukraine won the two team's last encounter 2-0 and are considered as the favorites to win the game. However, North Macedonia is no easy rival and their physical approach can make it very hard for Ukraine. Our guess is a hard fought and narrow win for Ukraine.
The famous Argentinian referee, Fernando Andres Rapallini will be the referee for the game. His countrymen, Juan Pablo Belatti and Diego Yamil Bonfa will be his assistants. Alejandro Hernandez ofSpain
is appointed as the Video Assistant Referee while Slavko Vincic of Slovenia will be the fourth referee of the game.
Date: Friday, June 17
Kick off Time: 9 a.m. ET
Location: National Arena, Bucharest
TV: ESPN and TUDN
Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Odds: Ukraine -155; Draw +270; North Macedonia +500 (via William Hill Sportsbook)