The opening round of UEFA Euro 2020 matches begin on Sunday, with Austria taking on North Macedonia in the first match before the Netherlands face Ukraine in Amsterdam, seeking to get off to a flying start in the summer extravaganza.
- Over 2.5 match goals
- Netherlands to win
- Over 1.5 Netherlands goals
The low down
- Question marks hover over Netherlands heading into EURO 2020 with Frank de Boer having endured an inconsistent reign as head coach so far, however with three wins and 14 goals over the course of their last four international matches (including friendlies), the Dutch may just be hitting their stride at the perfect time.
- Leading the line for Netherlands going forward is the in-form Memphis Depay, who has registered six goals and two assists across his last six appearances for his country and he will be supported from midfield by the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum
- However, de Boer will be without the services of captain and central defender Virgil van Dijk, who has been absent for a number of months now through injury, meaning that 21-year-old Matthijs de Ligt must shoulder the responsibility of leading the defence, providing he himself recovers from a groin problem that saw him miss his side’s final warm-up friendly.
- Ukraine may have surprised a few when they topped their EURO 2020 qualification group over reigning European champions Portugal, but having gone unbeaten throughout their eight matches, they aren’t to be underestimated this summer.
- Since suffering a 3-0 defeat to Switzerland last November in the UEFA Nations League, Ukraine have not lost in their last six matches since (including friendlies), even holding 2018 World Cup champions France to a 1-1 drawback in March.
- Andriy Shevchenko has lots of options to choose from throughout his squad with plenty of strength in depth, however, winger Viktor Tsygankov is a serious injury doubt following a recent ankle injury.
- This will only be the third meeting between Netherlands and Ukraine. Out of the previous two, the Oranje have one, while the other ended in a draw.
- After a run of six losses in eight games in 2020, Ukraine haven’t lost even one of their last six games since the turn of the year, although four games have ended in 1-1 draws.
- Netherlands have lost just one of their last ten matches, including friendlies. Frank de Boer’s side have picked up wins in three of their previous four encounters.
Player to watch: Ruslan Malinovskyi (Ukraine)
For Ukraine, who are likely to set up with a defensive outlook on Sunday, it becomes imperative that they make the most of whatever opportunities they get in the final third, which is where Ruslan Malinovskyi will be key. The 28-year-old enjoyed a fine season with Atalanta, scoring and creating goals in equal measure.
Set to play in a slightly more advanced role than he generally does, the attacking midfielder will not only have to engineer openings for his partner, Yaremchuk, but also make sure that he himself provides a serious goal threat on the night.