Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Germany v Ukraine
World champions Germany begin their quest to claim continental glory on Sunday night with an intriguing contest against Ukraine in Lille.
Germany v Ukraine, Sunday 12th June 20.00, BBC1
Three-time winners Germany haven’t been the same side that dazzled us in Brazil two years ago but reports of regression are a touch premature. Although Die Mannschaft were beaten by Poland and Ireland in qualification, Joachim Low’s side dominated both encounters.
Germany won the shot count across their two away losses 45-10 and enjoyed a 69.5% average possession figure in Warsaw and Dublin. The absence of a killer instinct in the final third cost the country on both occasions and Low has recalled Mario Gomez to the squad in the hope of solving the striking conundrum.
However, issues have also arisen at the back for Die Mannschaft. Mats Hummels won’t feature until at least the third group-game whilst Jerome Boateng is nursing a knock. With neither Jonas Hector nor Emre Can completely convincing in full-back positions, could the Germans be vulnerable here?
Since lifting the World Cup, Low’s posse have returned just five clean sheets in 17 matches – two of which came against Gibraltar. And it just so happens, Ukraine’s main attacking threats arrive from the flanks.
Together Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko have plundered 34 goals from 108 caps from their position on the wings and the dynamic duo shoulder the offensive burden in Mykhaylo Fomenko’s regimented and defensively-minded outfit.
The Ukraine coach sets his stall out to keep a clean sheet and although the Yellows failed to score home or away against Slovakia or Spain during qualification, no side managed to score more than once against Fomenko’s men.
In fact, over the past 37 outings, only France have managed to beat Ukraine by more than one goal.
With the underdogs likely to park the bus, Germany may need to work extra hard for a breakthrough in Lille.
Still, Die Mannschaft are the definition of a tournament team and stereotypes aside, I’d expect Germany to rise to the occasion. The nation have won seven of their past nine games in this competition and scored in 11 of their past 12 European Championship matches.
The 8/13 on a German triumph looks a little too short to back so instead, throw in Under 3.5 Goals to the equation for a 13/10 chance. Nine of Ukraine’s 12 qualifiers featured fewer than three goals – two of the three that did came against group minnows Luxembourg.
Exclude Luxembourg and Ukraine’s 10 matches en-route to France averaged just 1.60 goals-per-game, whilst only 11/27 (41%) competitive German games since Euro 2012 produced four goals or more.
We can also have a small interest in the world champions to win by exactly one goal at 5/2. As already mentioned, Ukraine have suffered just one defeat by more than a solitary goal in 37 fixtures.
Germany to win and Under 3.5 Goals @ 13/10
Germany to win by exactly one goal @ 5/2
*Prices correct at time of publication.