After a poor display against Romania on Monday, the Ukrainians have a chance to redeem themselves at EURO 2024. The Ukrainians have everything to play for in their game against Slovakia this Friday.

Monday’s match against Romania produced a shocking result. Many football experts, pundits, and fans predicted that Ukraine would ease past the Romanians. What followed, however, was much different. While Ukraine maintained possession of the ball during the majority of the match, they failed to turn that statistic into something meaningful. They were punished for their inability to convert their chances, and the Romanians were more lethal in front of goal. This ultimately resulted in the shocking 3-0 victory for Romania.

Now, Ukraine’s participation in this tournament hangs on the match against Slovakia. Should the Ukrainians win, this would inspire confidence against Belgium on Matchday 3. A victory could place Ukraine in a position to potentially advance out of Group E. Failure to win, however, would see Ukraine bow out of the competition. Such a result would be disappointing.

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Meanwhile, Slovakia finds themselves in a good position ahead of this match. Victory against Ukraine would likely mean that the Slovakians will progress to the competition’s knockout stages.

Monday’s result for Slovakia came as a surprise for many football spectators. During this game, Belgium maintained the majority of ball possession throughout the match against Slovakia. The Belgians also completed more passes and had more shots on goal. They even had two goals ruled out by the video assistant referee (more commonly known as VAR). Despite this dominant performance, it was Slovakia who came out ahead with a 1-0 victory.

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Slovakia knows that Belgium will be looking to redeem themselves in their match against Romania. It is predicted that Belgium will win that match. Should that be the case, then Slovakia will hope that a victory over Ukraine will secure a place in the knockout stages. This would be seen as a big achievement for the Slovakians.

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In short, a lot will be riding for both of these teams on Matchday 2. How will they fare on Friday, June 21?

Team News:

  • Ukrainian manager Serhiy Rebrov will be hoping for better fortune in this match as he leads Ukraine in his first international competition as the coach.
  • Vitaliy Mykolenko, who was injured and unavailable in Ukraine’s match against Romania, has started to train. But as of June 19, he remains questionable for this game.
  • This will be Ukraine’s first match against Slovakia since the EURO 2016 qualifiers in 2014/2015. Ukraine lost once and drew the other game in these two encounters.
  • Francesco Calzona will be leading the Slovakian national team at his first major European competition. While helping lead Slovakia to EURO 2024, the Italian was also simultaneously the manager of Italian club Napoli in 2024.
  • Slovakia have a fully fit squad for this game.
  • As Czechoslovakia, the country won the European Championships in 1976. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in January 1993, independent Slovakia have only competed at EURO 2016 and EURO 2020.

Ukraine’s Predicted Starting XI Against Slovakia:

  • Lunin
  • Konoplya
  • Zabarnyi
  • Matviyenko
  • Zinchenko
  • Tsygankov
  • Sudakov
  • Brazhko
  • Mudryk
  • Yaremchuk
  • Dovbyk

Slovakia’s Predicted Starting XI Against Ukraine:

  • Dúbravka
  • Pekarík
  • Vavro
  • Škriniar
  • Hancko
  • Kucka
  • Lobotka
  • Duda
  • Schranz
  • Boženik
  • Haraslin

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eurasian affairs and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on X @MTemnycky

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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