Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Prediction: Ukraine vs Belgium

Verdict: Belgium win

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Olympusbet

The fiercely competitive Euro 2024 Group E reaches its climax on Wednesday evening, as pre-tournament favorites Ukraine and Belgium clash at the MHPArena in Stuttgart.

Both teams managed to secure their first wins in their previous outings, reviving their hopes for a place in the knockout rounds. Ukraine, under Serhiy Rebrov’s guidance, staged a comeback to defeat Slovakia 2-1 after trailing by a goal. Meanwhile, Belgium recorded a 2-0 victory over Romania, reinvigorating their campaign.

Ukraine

Everything is still up for grabs as Euro 2024 Group E heads into its final matchday, with all four teams tied on three points from their first two fixtures—a historic first for the Championships. Ukraine currently find themselves at the bottom of the group due to an inferior goal difference.

The Ukrainians endured a rocky start, conceding three goals to Romania in their opening match, which led to Real Madrid’s Andriy Lunin being replaced in goal for the second fixture. Against Slovakia, Ukraine teetered on the brink of an early exit when Ivan Schranz scored his second goal in as many games.

Mykola Shaparenko’s composed finish from an Oleksandr Zinchenko cross brought Ukraine back into the game. Despite Roman Yaremchuk squandering a prime opportunity with an over-hit pass to Mykhaylo Mudryk, he redeemed himself in the 80th minute by scoring the decisive goal to secure a comeback victory.

Ukraine’s dramatic turnaround has kept their hopes for last-16 qualification alive. The Blue and Yellow can ensure a top-two finish with a win over Belgium, and they might even top the group if they better Romania’s result against Slovakia. A draw could be sufficient for third place—and potentially a path to the knockout stages—if there is a clear winner in the Romania vs. Slovakia match. Even a defeat might not spell the end of their campaign, provided Slovakia also lose, but Serhiy Rebrov’s squad will be focused on controlling their destiny rather than relying on external factors.

Team News

All Ukraine players are fit and eager to compete, including Vitaliy Mykolenko, who was cleared for the matchday squad in the recent win over Slovakia but did not play. Despite his match-saving contribution against Slovakia, Yaremchuk is expected to be replaced by Artem Dovbyk in the starting XI. Meanwhile, right-back Yukhym Konoplya and Yaremchuk himself are at risk of missing a potential last-16 match if they receive yellow cards in Stuttgart.

Anatoliy Trubin’s impressive performance against Slovakia has likely secured his place as the starting goalkeeper over Lunin for this crucial encounter. If Mykolenko is fit to start, Oleksandr Zinchenko may return to his usual midfield role rather than filling in at left-back.

Belgium

Despite his tremendous efforts, Romelu Lukaku, Belgium’s all-time leading scorer, has yet to find the net at Euro 2024. His scoring woes were evident in Belgium’s unexpected opening loss to Slovakia. However, the team’s fortunes shifted dramatically in their subsequent match against Romania.

Youri Tielemans ignited Belgium’s resurgence with a swift strike just 73 seconds into the game—the fastest goal ever scored by the Belgian men’s team at a major tournament. This early goal set the stage for a much-needed victory, solidified later by Kevin De Bruyne’s opportunistic finish from Koen Casteels’ long punt. De Bruyne’s goal brought relief to the Belgian camp and secured a crucial 2-0 win in Cologne.

Currently sitting second in Group E, Belgium need only a draw against Ukraine to advance to the knockout stages. Victory would secure top spot if Slovakia fails to beat Romania. However, a loss, coupled with any result other than a Slovakia defeat, would mean another group-stage exit, mirroring their disappointment from the 2022 World Cup.

Team News

Neither Axel Witsel (adductor) nor Thomas Meunier (thigh) were available for Belgium’s crucial 2-0 win over Romania and both players remain doubtful for the final group match against Ukraine. Their absence, coupled with Dodi Lukebakio’s suspension, presents some selection challenges for Domenico Tedesco.

Leandro Trossard and Johan Bakayoko are candidates to replace Lukebakio in the starting XI, while defender Arthur Theate, forced off through a blow to the thigh in the previous match, has played down all suggestions about his potential unavailability.

Conclusion

Belgium’s creative prowess has never been in question, yet their finishing has left much to be desired in their opening Euro 2024 fixtures. Despite numerous missed opportunities, the Red Devils managed to secure a crucial victory against Romania, illustrating the ability to overcome such inefficiencies.

Facing a Ukraine side with a porous defence that heavily relied on Anatoliy Trubin’s heroics against Slovakia, Belgium should capitalize on their scoring opportunities. Tedesco’s squad is expected to clinch the victory required to confirm their place in the knockout stages, potentially leaving Ukraine anxiously waiting to learn their fate.

Verdict: Belgium win

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Olympusbet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

SHARE OR COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE

WE RECOMMEND

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required *

Join the conversation!

or Register

Live Scores

advertisement

Betting Guide Advertisement

advertisement

Become a Writer
More More
Top