Group C favourites, Netherlands and Ukraine collide in a blockbuster opening clash at Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam.
Depending on the result of Austria’s clash against North Macedonia, whoever wins this match could go top of Group C.
Jasper Cillessen is ruled out for Netherlands after being axed following a bout of Coronavirus with AZ Alkmaar’s Marco Bizot called up in his place, although Norwich’s Tim Krul is set to start in goal as their now first-choice goalkeeper.
Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek also is absent after withdrawing with a groin injury.
Ukraine have no fresh injury concerns to report with a full squad available for selection.
- This is the Netherlands’ first meeting against Ukraine at a major tournament.
- Ukraine have lost both previous meetings with the Netherlands in friendlies, losing 4-1 on aggregate after 3-0 defeat in May 2008 then a 1-1 draw in August 2010.
- Memphis Depay has scored five goals in his last three appearances for the Netherlands in all competitions.
- Ukraine have scored first in four of six matches in 2021 across all competitions (W2, D4).
- Both Netherlands and Ukraine lost their last matches refereed by Felix Brych without scoring in September 2020 and October 2017 respectively.
Having seen the Netherlands face Scotland in a pre-tournament friendly a few weeks ago, Frank De Boer’s Oranje do seem to enjoy playing a possession based game on the front foot but they did struggle to take their chances well, which will definitely need correcting if they’re to defeat a tough Ukrainian team.
Speaking of Ukraine, they enter this match without defeat in 2021 and certainly know how to force their way to 1-1 draws, having done so on four consecutive occasions this year so cannot be discounted the longer it stays goalless or even 1-0 down to the Netherlands.
I therefore can see a difficult encounter brewing here between two quality teams but Ukraine have kept clean sheets in their two warm-up games, so this should be a close result but am going for a score draw.
Prediction: Netherlands 1-1 Ukraine
Result: Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine