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UEFA U21 Championship

  • 15 June 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • MCH Arena, Herning
  • Referee: A. Stavrev
  • • Attendance: 3495

Ukraine U-21s - England U-21s Preview: Three Lions look to record first win in Group B & extend five-match unbeaten run

Ukraine U-21s - England U-21s Preview: Three Lions look to record first win in Group B & extend five-match unbeaten run


Both sides look to earn their first victories in this year's tournament and give themselves a chance of reaching the semi-finals going into the final round of group matches

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Ukraine (4-3-3): Kanibolitskiy; Kurilov, Kryvtsov, Butko, Selin; Morozyuk, Rakitskiy, Chesnakov; Zozulya, Yarmolenko, Konoplienka.

Ukraine are looking to get off the mark in Group B, but will have to do so without talismanic captain Taras Stepanenko, who limped out of his side’s opening defeat to the Czech Republic with an injury to the adductor muscle in his thigh and will miss the rest of the tournament.

In Stepanenko’s absence, regular right-back Yaroslav Rakitskiy will likely assume both the captain’s armband and his Shakhtar Donetsk club-mate’s position as the midfield anchorman. First choice left-back Yevhen Selin should also return after missing the Czech Republic game with a high temperature.

England (4-3-3): Fielding; Walker, Jones, Smalling, Bertrand; Henderson, Mancienne, Cleverley; Sturridge, Welbeck, Rose.

With no fresh injury worries, Stuart Pearce will likely stick with the same starting XI which took to the field against Spain, but will no doubt be hoping his midfield trio is not so easily overrun this time around.

The centre-back pairing of Smalling and Jones, so imperious in dealing with danger that day, will be crucial again, not least in dealing with the Ukrainians’ threat from set-pieces.

Danny Welbeck will look to build on his clinically-taken equaliser against the Spanish on Sunday, while pacey duo Daniel Sturridge and Danny Rose will aim to carry a more potent threat from wide positions than last time out.

  • Both England and the Ukraine are looking for their first victories of this year’s European Under-21 Championships.

  • Ukraine were undefeated in their qualification group for this year’s tournament, but have lost both of their last two matches.

  • England have only suffered one defeat in their last 10 matches, and are currently on a run of five games unbeaten.

  • Both teams have a striker who is one booking away from missing the final match of the group stage – Danny Welbeck for England, Roman Zozulya for the Ukraine.

  • History shows Ukraine should not be deterred by their opening day defeat. In three of the last five European Under-21 Championships, the eventual winners lost their opening match (Czech Republic in 2002, Italy in 2004 and the Netherlands in 2006)

  • These two nations have never faced each other in a competitive Under-21 match, but England did emerge as 3-1 winners in a friendly between the two sides in Middlesborough in August 2004, courtesy of two goals from Carlton Cole and one from Darren Bent.

  • England have won the European Under-21 Championships twice, in 1982 and 1984, as well as finishing as runners up in 2009. Ukraine have never won the tournament, although they did finish as runners up in 2006.

  • A member of the current Ukraine Under-21 squad, Denys Garmash, scored against England in the 2009 European Under-19 Championship final. Three members of the current England Under-21 squad, Kyle Walker, Danny Welbeck and Henri Lansbury, also featured. Ukraine won the match 2-0.

  • The two sides had earlier met in the group stage of the 2009 European Under-19 Championships, with Henri Lansbury scoring for England in a 2-2 draw.

  • Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) president Grigory Surkis came into the Ukraine Under-21 dressing room after their defeat to the Czech Republic on Sunday and told the players to keep their chins up.

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Players to watch

A. Yarmolenko

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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Yarmolenko is probably the closest to a star name in this talented but relatively obscure Ukraine side, having already played - and scored – at senior level for his country as well as tasting Champions League football with club side Dynamo Kiev.

A tall, powerfully built forward who is also comfortable on the wing, the 21-year-old is just as dangerous when the ball in the air as he is when it is at his feet. England’s centre-back pairing of Smalling and Jones had better be on their guard.

D. Sturridge

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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Sturridge reached the next level of his development during a highly successful spell on loan at Bolton this season and has all the tools he needs to shine at this tournament.

The Chelsea striker was denied room and service in the opening match against Spain, but his pace, trickery and eye for goal should enable him to have more of a say this time around. If he gets a chance in the box, expect him to take it.

Editor's Prediction

Ukraine will look to impose their superior physicality on the game from the outset, and will target set-pieces as their likeliest source of goals.

They could even take the lead, likely capitalising on some slack England marking from a corner, but as the game wears on, the pace and skill of Stuart Pearce’s side should begin to tell.

The attacking trio of Rose, Welbeck and Sturridge will start to receive the ball in space in the final third, and the Ukrainian defence will be unable to handle their opponents’ incisive movement.

It won’t be easy for England, but they will eventually emerge 3-1 winners.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Ukraine U21

England U21


Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Ukraine Under 21 UKR
Ukraine Under 21 Ukraine U21
England Under 21 ENG
England Under 21 England U21

Top 3 Predictions

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England Under 21 ENG
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England Under 21 ENG
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