og-default

After some less than ideal preparation for Euro 2016, Die Mannschaft’s focus on the tournament is unwavering. Ukraine meanwhile are realistic in their expectations.

Germany face Ukraine in their Euro 2016 Group C opener at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Villeneuve d’Ascq. Kick off is at 12:00PM ET.

Die Nationalelf are already looking to shuffle their pack after coach Joachim Low included some players who are not fully fit in their 23-man Euro 2016 squad.

Despite some crocked players in their camp, Germany still have the expectation of utilizing these players later in the tournament as long as they can cruise through Group C with the help of some very strong attacking options.

The Blue and Yellows are yet to address the elephant on the pitch after a very public disagreement between forward Yarmolenko and midfielder Stepanenkko at club level but they have no new injury concerns in their squad.

Marco Reus missed the final squad after failing to recover from an injury he picked up in the last game of Bundesliga season. Mario Gotze might start on the left wing but will fit in with the rest of the squad. Experienced striker Mario Gomez could lead the line, with Muller occupying the role of a support striker on the right flank.

Mat Hummels is set to miss the group games with injury, while Antonio Rudiger, who was set to replace him in the opening match is ruled out of the tournament with a serious knee injury he picked up in training. Shkodran Mustafi is the likely partner for Jerome Boateng at the center of Germany’s defense.

Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundongan was also ruled out the tournament with injury. Schweinsteiger is still not at full fitness either leaving Germany short of an appropriate back up for Kroos and Khedira in the defensive midfield roles

Ukraine meanwhile has a full roster to pick from in their attempts to make it past the group stages for the first time ever. Their key men will be Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka, The pair will seek to orchestrate quick counter attacks from both wings. While Roman Zozulya is the only recognized striker in the team and is expected to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Die Mannschaft boss Joachim Low told the press that despite having to amend some of his plans due to injuries, his side will still be targeting domination at Euro 2016.

“Indeed, we have to do without players who have certainly played an important role in our plans a few weeks ago,” Low told a news conference. “It’s clear that I would have liked to have the squad I wished for a few months ago. But we will not moan. We have a very god team, I absolutely trust my players.

“We won’t downgrade our claims, our goals will not be altered.”

Low pinpointed the importance of Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos to the team, adding that the ‘Germany players’ council,’ consisting of Jerome Boateng, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels and Kroos, will be vital to Germnay’s chances.

“Kroos is our anchor on the field, he has qualities a midfielder needs,” Low said. “[Those] players are high up in the hierarchy.”

Ukraine coach Mykhaylo Fomenko played under legendary coach Valery Lobanovsky during the Soviet era. Lobanovsky made him Dynamo Kiev captain in 1975, the year they won the Soviet league, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Super Cup.

The steely Ukrainian had to issue a warning to his players after they conceded some avoidable goals in recent friendlies. He told the press that when his Euro 2016 campaign commences against Germany his side will perform much better.

“Our attitude and motivation will be very different when the tournament starts. It will be a different team, different football,” he said.

Fomenko is under no illusions over who are the group favorites. The 67-year-old believes his country will be experiencing a fight at Euro 2016 with fellow Group C contenders Northern Ireland and Poland to reach the knockouts.

“Germany will top the group. Second place is between the three other teams,” he said.

Ukraine and Germany have only met a total of five times. Ukraine has been unable to record a victory in any of them and have suffered two defeats while managing three draws.

The sides last met in 2011 in an enthralling 3-3 friendly that raised the curtain on the newly constructed Olimpiyskyi Stadion in Kiev. The game took place prior to Ukraine hosting Euro 2012. Yamolenko and Konoplyanka were both on the score-sheet for Ukraine, as were Kroos and Muller for Germany.

Germany’s only two victories occurred in World Cup qualifying campaigns. En route to the 2002 World Cup they thrashed Ukraine 4-1 with goals from Neuville, Rehmer and a double from Ballack. In 1997 Germany had recently been crowned Euro 96 champs and beat Ukraine 2-0 in Bremen on their way to France 98.

Ukraine warmed up for Euro 2016 with four straight victories. They started with two clean sheets in a pair of 1-0 wins against Cyprus and Wales via goals from Stepanenko and Yarmolenko respectively. Despite some suspect defending and Pyatov’s suicidal goalkeeping Ukraine defeated Romania 4-3 before recording a 3-1 victory over Albania.

Germany meanwhile paid the price for not picking a full strength team against Slovakia in their first of two Euro 2016 warm-up games as the Slovaks gave Germany a 3-1 beating in Augsburg. World Champions Germany did restore order in their other friendly where they beat Hungary 2-0 via an own goal and a typical finish from Muller.

Ukraine qualified via a play-off after finishing third in Group C behind Spain and Slovakia. The play-off pitted them against Norway who they made light work of dispatching 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-0 victory in their temporary home stadium in Lviv. It was the first time they had been successful in a play-off having been on the losing side a number of times in the past.

Germany meanwhile managed to top their group but was pushed to the wire in an extremely competitive qualifying group. Despite some less than convincing performances in defeats to Republic of Ireland and Poland, Germany came up with the goods when necessary. Thomas Muller was his usual opportunistic self by scoring 9 goals in qualification

Predicted Line-ups

Germany: Neuer; Hector, Mustafi, Boateng, Can; Khedira, Kroos; Gotze, Ozil, Muller; Gomez.

Ukraine: Pyatov; Shevchuk, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Fedetskiy; Garmash, Stepanenko; Konoplyanka, Sydorchuk, Yarmolenko; Zozulya.

Betting

Germany 0 – 0 Ukraine – 10/1

Germany 2 – 0 Ukraine – 11/2

Germany 0 – 1 Ukraine – 12/1

Germany 3 – 1 Ukraine – 12/1

Germany 5 – 0 Ukraine – 50/1

Muller to score and more than 3 goals in match – 2/1

Gotze to score and Germany to keep a clean sheet – 5/1