The World Champions begin their Euro 2016 campaign against Ukraine, who qualified for this tournament thanks to a playoff victory over Slovenia. Whilst Germany topped Group D, they were far from imperious in qualification as they lost twice. That, together with recent friendly defeats against France and England suggests that they’ve got some way to go if they’re going to have a similar spell of dominance to that enjoyed by Spain in recent times and win back-to-back major trophies.
A major concern for Joachim Low heading into this tournament will be his side’s defence. While they kept five clean sheets in their seven World Cup matches, they’ve managed just four in their 17 games since that triumph in Brazil, and two of those were against Gibraltar. Indeed, when playing sides they’re ranked between 15 and 30 places higher, their record since 2011 is W4-D4-L3 and both teams scored in all 11 of these matches, with each seeing more than two goals and eight having more than three strikes.
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Ukraine suffered home defeats against Spain and Slovakia in qualification, but they were very impressive on the road as they only conceded a goal in a 1-0 defeat against Spain. They’ve had a bit of a barren spell in major international tournaments since they made it to the quarters of the 2006 World Cup, failing to qualify for the last two editions of that tournament and being knocked out at the group stages of the last two Euros. When playing sides ranked in the world’s top-10, Ukraine’s record since 2009 in all matches is W3-D3-L6, though they did manage to find the net in eight of these games and only lost one by more than one goal.
Ukraine have a couple of exciting wingers in Yarmolenko, who’s netted 23 times in 57 appearances and has been linked with a move to Liverpool this summer, and Sevilla’s Konoplyanka, who has 11 goals in 51 appearances. With those two operating out wide, they’re sure to cause the World Champions problems, particularly with Phillip Lahm no longer operating at right back. Indeed, the full-back positions are certainly where Germany look most vulnerable, with Koln’s Hector likely to be at left-back and Can, who played largely in midfield at Liverpool this season, the one tasked with filling Lahm’s place.
The record of sides in the top-10 when playing sides they’re ranked between 10 and 30 places higher than in the opening match of World Cups and Euros since 2004 is W17-D4-L2, but interestingly the higher ranked team has only managed one clean sheet in the seven of these games since the start of the last Euros. This, together with the fact that Germany have struggled defensively since the World Cup means that both teams to score looks the best bet in this one and Over 2.5 Goals is also certainly worth consideration. Since Ukraine tend to be competitive when playing the top teams and France are the only team to beat them by more than one goal in their last 37 matches, they also make appeal +1 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9.
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