Euro 2016 play-off: Slovenia vs Ukraine preview

November 16, 2015
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Ukraine vs SloveniaSlovenia find themselves in all sorts of problems after the 2-0 loss in L’viv, and they will obviously need to produce a huge effort if they are to pip Ukraine to a place at the Euro 2016.

Zbirna largely impressed in the first leg and could have maybe scored a couple more goals, but they will be perfectly happy with a two-goal lead ahead of the trip to Maribor.

While they somewhat struggled against the weaker sides in the group, Slovenia showed plenty of promise in matches with England and Switzerland, which hinted they might do well in the play-off matches vs Ukraine.

However, Srecko Katanec’s side were completely outclassed by the opposition, and they were pretty fortunate to only concede two goals at Arena L’viv.

Slovenia did launch two very good counterattacks that saw Josip Ilicic and Milivoje Novakovic miss very good chances to score, and those events could prove decisive in the final count.

Srecko Katanec’s charges are likely to revert to attack-minded style in the return match, but with Ukraine likely to prove very dangerous on the break, things are not looking good for the hosts.

Even if there are no injury concerns, the boss is widely expected to make some changes to his side, with Nejc Pecnik and Andraz Struna pushing for starting places.

Slovenia are currently priced at 13.00 (12/1) to qualify for the tournament finals, which is enough to suggest the size of the task in front of them.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): S. Handanovic – Struna, Ilic, Cesar, Jokic – Krhin, Kurtic – Pecnik, Kampl, Ilicic – Novakovic.

Having suffered amazing five play-off defeats, Ukraine were desperate to end the barren run against Slovenia, but Mikhail Fomenko’s charges clearly had no problems coping with the pressure.

Zbirna continued the rich vein of form in arguably the most important fixture in recent years and recorded a 2-0 triumph that has all but booked their ticket to France.

Just as expected, the attacking trio of Konoplyanka, Seleznyov and Yarmolenko proved too much for Slovenia defenders, with experienced full-backs Fedetskiy and Shevchuk helping create more space for the two in-form wingers.

Ukraine were carving out chances for fun in the first leg despite the fact that their opponents were fully focused on defence and with Slovenia now set to adopt a more positive approach, Mikhail Fomenko’s charges should have an even easier job in the final third.

As a result, we find odds of 2.70 (17/10) offered at William Hill on away win quite tempting, as we fully expect Zbirna to record another victory and secure their place at Euro 2016 in style.

The visitors will have Oleksandr Kucher and Taras Stepanenko back from suspension, while there are no other worries for the boss.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Pyatov – Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Rakitiskiy, Shevchuk – Stepanenko, Rybalka, Sydorchuk – Yarmolenko, Seleznyov, Konoplyanka.

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