Despite picking up just one point from first two games, Ukraine will go through to the semis if they beat Spain, even if that looks like virtually impossible task. La Furia Roja, on the other hand, need just one more point to qualify for the semis, although there are no doubts they will be looking to win this game as well.
Will goalless draw with England make a difference?
Ukraine are hardly the world beaters at youth levels, but the Eastern Europeans have had a lot of success lately at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 levels. The Under-21 side had the misfortune to be placed in a very difficult group in Denmark and their chances of reaching the semis were next to none after losing the opening game to Denmark. However, the goalless draw with England, which Ukraine, in all fairness, did not deserve saw them keep their qualifying hopes alive, albeit not for long. Pavlo Yakovenko’s side now need to beat tournament favourites Spain in order to reach the semis, which doesn’t look very likely from where I’m standing. Ukraine have shown very little in their opening two games and it is highly unlikely that they will show a massive improvement against mighty Spain.
Captain Taras Stepanenko has returned home after picking up an injury, while coach Yakovenko has again announced some changes in the starting line-up.
Spain back to their best
Arriving to the tournament as odds-on favourites, Spain were always going to be under pressure in their opening game against England and that is exactly what prevented La Furia Roja from showing all they’ve got. However, as we have predicted, Luis Milla’s side looked much better in the match against very good Czech Republic side and they deservedly won the game 2:0, with striker Adrian scoring two beautiful goals to round off nice team moves. Spain now need just one more point to qualify but as you are probably aware, this side always play for a win, especially when they are as high on confidence as they are at the moment. With players like Mata, Muniain and Adrian up front, La Furia Roja look set to continue the good scoring run.
With Juan Mata, Javi Martinez, Adrian, Ander Herrera, Thiago Alcantara and Alberto Botia all one yellow card away from suspension, coach Luis Milla could opt to rest some of these players.
Following two disappointing performances, nobody believe that Ukraine can surprise tournament favourites Spain and I believe they should be happy to avoid a heavy defeat. Spain are slowly raising their form and they will be looking to keep their spirits high with another victory.
Our prediction: Spain with -1.25 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.00 (1/1)