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The UEFA Euro 2020 returns to the fold with a new round of group stage matches as Ukraine lock horns with North Macedonia in an important Group C encounter at the National Arena on Thursday. Both teams can pack a punch on their day and have a point to prove this week.
Dates, time, avenue
Kick-off time: 14:00 BST, Thursday
TV channel: ITV
Venue: National Arena - Bucharest, Romania
Ukraine vs North Macedonia: Match preview
|Photo: Getty Images|
Ukraine were unable to replicate their efforts from Euro 2012 and win their opening group game, as they came up short against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Sunday.
After a frantic yet goalless first half, Dutch captain Georginio Wijnaldum pounced on a loose ball to break the deadlock in the 52nd minute, before Wout Weghorst's first-time finish from a tight angle doubled their lead six minutes later.
Ukraine were seemingly heading for defeat; however, Shevchenko's men had other ideas. With 15 minutes remaining, a classic left-footed strike from Andriy Yarmolenko, cutting in from the right flank, pulled one back for the Yellow and Blue before a powerful header from Roman Yaremchuk completed the comeback four minutes later.
The 16,000 Dutch fans in the Johan Cruijff ArenA were silenced heading into the final 10 minutes, but right wing-back Denzel Dumfries ensured they were to roar once more as his 85th-minute header from Nathan Ake's cross sealed all three points for Frank De Boer's side.
Despite defeat, Ukraine can take positives from their opening match. Going toe-to-toe with one of Europe's top nations is no mean feat and their fighting spirit to get back into the game will have pleased Shevchenko.
Ukraine will, however, need to claim something against Euro 2020's lowest-ranked side North Macedonia if they are to keep their hopes of securing a top-two finish in Group C alive.
North Macedonia's only victory against the Yellow and Blue came back in 2004 when they won a friendly encounter 1-0 on home soil.
The Red Lynxes, however, failed to score in their other three meetings against them and they can ill afford to draw another blank on Thursday if they are to reach the last 16.
Ukraine vs North Macedonia: Team news
Goalkeepers: Georgiy Bushchan, Andriy Pyatov, Anatolii Trubin
Defenders: Eduard Sobol, Illia Zabarnyi, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Denys Popov, Oleksandr Tymchyk, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Oleksandr Karavaev, Mykola Matviyenko
Midfielders: Serhiy Sydorchuk, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Mykola Shaparenko, Marlos, Yevhen Makarenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Viktor Tsygankov, Taras Stepanenko, Andriy Yarmolenko, Oleksandr Zubkov, Heorhii Sudakov, Roman Bezus
Forwards: Roman Yaremchuk, Artem Besedin, Artem Dovbyk
North Macedonia squad
Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski, Damjan Siskovski, Riste Jankov
Defenders: Stefan Ristovski, Visar Musliu, Egzon Bejtulai, Kire Ristevski, Gjoko Zajkov, Darko Velkovski, Ezdzan Alioski
Midfielders: Arijan Ademi, Enis Bardhi, Stefan Spirovski, Boban Nikolov, Tihomir Kostadinov, Ferhan Hasani, Eljif Elmas, Daniel Avramovski, Darko Curlinov, Marjan Radeski
Forwards: Goran Pandev, Aleksandar Trajkovski, Ivan Trickovski, Vlatko Stojanovski, Krste Velkovski, Milan Ristovski
Ukraine vs North Macedonia Head-to-Head
|Photo: Getty Images|
Ukraine have a good record against North Macedonia and have won two out of four games played between the two teams. North Macedonia have managed only one victory against Ukraine and will want to even the scales on Thursday.
The previous meeting between the two teams took place in 2015 and ended in a comfortable 2-0 victory for Ukraine. North Macedonia have improved over the years and will be intent on making a statement this week.
Ukraine form guide: L-W-W-D-D
North Macedonia form guide: L-W-D-W-W
Ukraine vs North Macedonia Prediction
Ukraine have excellent attacking resources at their disposal and will be intent on proving their mettle against North Macedonia this week. Andriy Yarmolenko scored a wonder goal against the Netherlands and will look to replicate his heroics in this fixture.
North Macedonia are perfectly capable of pulling off an upset and will rely on veteran striker Goran Pandev to make his mark this week. Ukraine are the better team on paper, however, and should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Ukraine 2-1 North Macedonia
Ukraine vs North Macedonia Betting Tips
Ukraine takes on North Macedonia in the 2nd round of fixtures from Group C, with both sides looking to bounce back from opening day losses at the Netherlands and Austria, respectively.
Indeed, while both will be smarting from those defeats, both sides can also take heart from their performances, with the Ukrainians, in particular, feeling hard done by following their narrow 3:2 loss in Amsterdam.
While the Macedonians did well to contain Austria for much of their opening match, a 3:1 defeat did seem harsh in the end for a nation making their debut at a major finals.
Still, Ukraine would certainly appear to be the stronger side and should be backed with confidence to get their campaign back on track with a solid win here against a Macedonia outfit that, while well-organised, seem to lack the quality required to truly hurt a Ukraine side that will still be confident of making the 2nd round.
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