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UEFA U21 Championship

  • June 19, 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • MCH Arena, Herning
  • Referee: M. Strahonja
  • • Attendance: 3302

European Under-21 Championship Preview: Ukraine - Spain

European Under-21 Championship Preview: Ukraine - Spain

Ukraine must beat Spain to have any hope of making the semi-finals, while a victory for La Rojita will ensure they advance to the last four as Group B winners

Ukraine (4-4-2): Kanibolitskiy; Rakitskiy, Kryvtsov, Butko, Selin; Garmash, Holodyuk, Chesnakov, Beliy; Yarmolenko, Konoplienka.

Ukraine have picked up just one point in the tournament so far, having lost their opening match against Czech Republic last weekend and then shared the spoils in a goalless draw with England on Wednesday. Only a win in this match will therefore be good enough for the Eastern Europeans to progess to the semi-finals.

Talismanic captain Taras Stepanenko 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. But Ukraine were much improved in the last match and coach Pavlo Yakovenko is set to name an unchanged side for this crucial game.

Spain (4-3-3): De Gea; Montoya, Botia, Dominguez, Didac; Javi Martinez, Ander Herrera, Thiago; Mata, Adrian, Muniain

Spain are all but qualified and can even advance to the semi-finals with a defeat in this match. However, La Rojita will be going after a win to ensure progress as Group B winners.

Coach Luis Milla has said he has no plans to rotate, so expect the same XI from the impressive win over Czech Republic on Wednesday night.

If Spain get off to a good start, though, Bojan could be an early substitute as Milla looks to boost the striker's confidence after he played just 10 minutes in the opening two matches, having been expected to be an important player in this tournament.

  • Ukraine were runners-up in this tournament in 2006, their first ever participation in the Under-21 European Championships.

  • Ukraine were undefeated in their qualification group for this year’s tournament, winning four games and drawing four to top a group which also included Belgium and France.

  • Since qualifying for this tournament late last year, Ukraine won just one of their five friendlies in the lead-up to this competition - a 3-2 victory over Iceland.

  • Ukraine have played Spain three times at this level, having won one, drawn one and lost one so far.
  • Andriy Shevchenko made seven appearances for Ukraine's Under-21 side, scoring six goals.

  • Spain's Thiago Alcantara has twiced caused controversy at this tournament, first by claiming he had never heard of any of England's players and then by saying he doesn't dream of triumphing at Barcelona, but the midfielder has turned in two fine performances on the pitch and has completed 10 successful dribbles so far - more than any other player in the competition.

  • Spain will be going for their third title at this level, having won in both 1986 and 1998.

  • Juan Mata and Adrian Lopez, who linked up brilliantly for both of Spain's goals against Czech Republic, are from the northern province of Asturias, which also gave us David Villa and Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso.

  • Like six of his players in Denmark (Bojan, Thiago, Jeffren, Martin Montoya, Ruben Mino and Alberto Botia), Spain coach Luis Milla came through Barcelona's famed La Masia youth system.

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UEFA European U21 Championship ‎(EU21)‎ Jun 19, 2011 Ukraine Under 21 0 - Spain Under 21 3
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Andriy Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 11
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Ukraine have scored just once so far in this competition and their strikers weren't particularly prolific in qualifying or recent friendlies either. Now, they need goals. Somebody has to step forward in this match and that could be lively Dynamo Kiev forward Andriy Yarmolenko, who is only 21 but has been a key player for his club for the last three years.
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Following a disappointing performance in the opener against England, Adrian proved a point in the 2-0 win over Czech Republic, scoring both goals as he formed a fine understanding with fellow Asturian Juan Mata. The Deportivo La Coruna striker will now be keen to renew that association and add more to his tournament tally against Ukraine.
Ukraine need to win this match to progress to the last four, but Spain looked ominously impressive in the 2-0 win over Czech Republic on Wednesday and will be keen to advance as Group B winners.

Playing like this, it is hard to see anyone stopping La Rojita and Ukraine will have to remain solid at the back, probably even more so than in the goalless draw against England on Wednesday, as well as improving in attack. It all seems unlikely and Spain should win fairly comfortably again.
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