Jonny Evans has indicated Northern Ireland may try a different approach for what he has described as a “make-or-break” Euro 2016 clash with Ukraine.
Michael O’Neill’s men were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Poland on their European Championship debut as Arkadiusz Milik settled the encounter in Nice, the goal just reward for a dominant performance by Adam Nawalka’s side.
That result leaves Northern Ireland facing a tough task to make it into the last 16, with world champions Germany awaiting them in the Group C finale after Thursday’s fixture at the Stade de Lyon.
However, Evans refuses to throw in the towel just yet and is hopeful they can get a result against Ukraine in order to keep their chances alive.
“Michael has hinted that we might try different things against different teams, especially Ukraine who are very good from the wide areas,” Evans told the British media.
“[Andriy] Yarmolenko is probably their most dangerous player. He plays off the right side and that’s something Michael has talked about, so we’ll analyse the Poland game and see if we can take any positives from aspects of our game.
“It would have been nice to take something from the game [against Poland] but we know we can’t lose [versus Ukraine], especially as we are up against Germany in the last game who are going to dominate better than anyone.
“It might be a make-or-break for us against Ukraine.”
Ukraine, meanwhile, are in an equally difficult position after losing their opener versus Germany 2-0.
Mikhail Fomenko’s men had their chances against Germany, Yevhen Konoplyanka seeing an effort cleared off the line by Jerome Boateng in a performance that left Ukraine with plenty of room for encouragement despite the defeat.
They will fancy their chances of getting the full three points versus Northern Ireland, who are winless in four matches against Ukraine.
However, Fomenko has warned his players not to take Northern Ireland lightly in a contest that is likely to prove pivotal to their hopes of reaching the knock-out rounds.
“Northern Ireland are not underdogs at all,” Fomenko told World Soccer prior to the Germany game.
“They play a typically British style of football and are not an easy rival either. Every match will require complete discipline and motivation.
“It is necessary always to have serious ambitions.
“Taking into account the teams that we have to play, our priority is to qualify from the group.”
Key Opta facts:
– Northern Ireland have never beaten Ukraine (drawing twice and losing twice), but their last two meetings have ended in goalless draws.
– Ukraine have lost their last three games at the Euros without scoring a single goal (five goals conceded).
– Northern Ireland have won only one of their last 10 games at a major tournament, beating Spain in the 1982 World Cup.
– Ukraine striker Roman Zozulya only made 10 touches and completed three passes in 66 minutes against Germany. He did not attempt a single shot.
– Northern Ireland attacker Kyle Lafferty had more touches in his own box (three) than in the opposition’s (one) in their opening game against Poland.