Holland vs Ukraine – Euro 2020 Preview
Holland come here after failing to qualify for the 2016 Euro’s or 2018 world cup. Their qualification campaign went pretty much as expected with them finishing 2nd in their group behind Germany, but they still have a way to go to convince that they have fixed the issues that saw them fail to qualify for back to back international major competitions, as a recent 4-2 defeat to Turkey in their world cup qualifying opener showed. A team with many familiar names in Nathan Ake (Man City), Matthijs De Ligt (Juventus), Daley Blind (Ajax), Giorgio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) and Memphis Depay (Lyon), that will have high hopes of winning the group and going into the deeper knock out stages. Manager Frank De Boer was assistant manager when Holland reached the 2010 World Cup final, so knows what it takes to deliver at a major tournament.
Ukraine also failed to qualify for the 2018 world cup, though that is slightly less surprising than their opponents failure to qualify. Under manager Andriy Shevchenko they are trying to become the first independent Ukrainian side to make it out of the group stage at a European championship. They were impressive in qualifying as they topped a group that also contained Portugal and Serbia, and they are unbeaten in 6 games in 2021. Though their unbeaten run this year has featured four 1-1 draws, which sums up the problem many expect to be their undoing, they just don’t score enough goals and finish teams off. On their day they will be a challenge to any team in this competition, but even on a good day its hard to see them having the firepower to mix it with the top European heavyweight nations.
The referee for this game is Felix Brych (Germany). This season he has taken charge of 33 games, giving 105 yellow cards and 6 red cards, for an average of 3.18 yellow cards per game and 0.18 red cards per game. In his career he has refereed 323 games, giving 1193 yellow cards and 73 red cards, an average of 3.69 yellow cards per game and 0.23 red cards per game.
I see this being a hard fought game, as Ukraine are sure to present a physical challenge, but the class that Holland have in key positions is likely to prove the difference. It would not surprise me to see Ukraine get on the scoresheet, but the experience of players like Wijnaldum and Blind in the midfield will allow Holland to control the game and create opportunities for the likes of Depay up top. I see Holland winning this game by a 2-1 or 3-1 score line.