Ukraine vs Northern Ireland Preview: Both teams looking to bounce back after opening defeats

After falling to defeats in their opening games in Group C, both Ukraine and Northern Ireland will be looking to bounce back when they play each other in Lyon on Thursday.

Ukraine vs Northern Ireland Preview: Both teams looking to bounce back after opening defeats
Image credit: VAVEL

The second round of fixtures in Group C in the European Championships get underway on Thursday evening with Ukraine facing Northern Ireland in Lyon.

Both sides head into the game looking to bounce back after losing their opening games in the group. Northern Ireland lost 1-0 against Poland in Nice while Ukraine fell to a 2-0 defeat to World Champions Germany.

Both teams suffer the same fate on matchday one

Michael O'Neill's men, playing in their first ever European Championships. lost 1-0 to Poland in their opening game with the winner coming from Arkadiusz Milik five minutes into the second half. The Northern Ireland players showed real resilience to keep Poland out for large periods of the game as they totally dominated the game. For the Green and White Army to get a positive result on Thursday they will have to change their tactics, and come out more and try to attack rather than sit back and absorb the pressure.

Mykhaylo Fomenko's Ukraine team didn't fair much better as they were defeated by a very potent Germany team 2-0 with goals coming from Shkodran Mustafi and Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Ukraine players gave it their all and if it weren't for some poor finishing and last ditch defending from the Germans they may have got something from the game. Ukraine, therefore, will go into Thursday's game knowing that the game is a must win that sets up a mouthwatering clash in Lyon.

The Northern Ireland players will have to pick themselves up after defeat by Poland | Photo: Sky Sports
The Northern Ireland players will have to pick themselves up after defeat by Poland | Photo: Sky Sports

Team News

Ukraine have no new injury concerns ahead of the game and are set to play the same team as they did against Germany. Ukraine will be hoping their attacking players such as Yevhen Konoplyanka will be able to have more of an effect on the game this time around after being very quiet in the game against Germany.

Northern Ireland go into the game with no new injury concerns with Paddy McNair, who was taken off at half-time against Poland, set to recover in time for the match to take his place once again in the starting eleven. The real question for O'Neill will be whether or not he will play two strikers to give his side a much more attacking outlook; or will he stick to the team he put out on Sunday?

Key Players

For Ukraine, they have a few top players but the one that Northern Ireland will have to look out for is Andriy Yarmolenko, Ukraine's playmaker who will be looking to impress much more than he did in the opening game. Yarmolenko has been touted a number of times that bigger clubs were going to sign him but it has never happened so he would be hoping to have a good tournament to show what he can do.

Kyle Lafferty is Northern Ireland's key player for the game as the Green and White Army look to score their first goal in the competition. For Lafferty to become as effective as he was in Northern Ireland's qualification campaign ,he needs help up front which he didn't get in the opening game and he became isolated.

Lafferty scored seven goals in Northern Ireland's qualification campaign and is a real nuisance for the opposition. He will, therefore, no doubt be the man the O'Neill looks to try and get a positive result on Thursday.

Likely Ukraine line-up: Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Sydorchuk, Stepanenko; Yarmolenko, Kovalenko, Konoplyanka; Zozulya.

Likely Northern Ireland line-up: McGovern; Cathcart, McAuley, Evans; McLaughlin, McNair, Baird, Norwood, Ferguson; Davis; Lafferty.