Ukraine v Poland
Wednesday June 22, 2:00am
Ukraine have the slimmest of chances of advancing to the Last 16 round and by the time this match kicks off they could already be out. In truth, they deserve little more than a first round exit. While they impressed in the final 10 minutes of the first half in their opener against Germany they’ve been awful in their other 170 so far. One assumes it’ll take decades for their proud nation to get over the embarrassment of losing 2-0 to minnows Northern Ireland.
Poland, meanwhile, are yet to concede in the competition. Northern Ireland played ultra-defensively in their first game but after Arkadiusz Milik’s 51st minute goal the three points looked secure. Poland arguably had the better of World champions Germany on Thursday and if Ukraine are already eliminated they’ll know that a big win here could see them top Group C and really shake up the whole competition.
Though this tournament is slightly different due to the expansion to 24 teams from 16, teams with zero points going into their final game have tended to struggle in their final pool stage match. In 17 Euro Championship examples the team with two losses in their first two fixtures have gone W5-D2-L10.
Ukraine failed to qualify for Brazil 2014 and they disappointed when co-hosting the last Euros with their opponents here as they picked up only three points in their group. They’ve now conceded in all of their five Finals matches in the last 10 years and they failed to score in all four defeats.
Poland lost to the Netherlands in their warm-up match but that’s their only recent blip as they’ve gone W7-D3-L1 since thrashing Gibraltar 8-1 in September. Worryingly for their backers though, they’ve won just one of their last 12 facing teams ranked 11-30 as only four games have had Over 2.5 Goals.
The outsiders in our gradings haven’t qualified for a World Cup since 2006 but this is their third consecutive Euro Championships appearance. They failed to progress from the group stage in their home tournament and also in 2008 but the games had a similar theme to their matches against Germany and Northern Ireland here. All of their eight Finals matches since 2008, and thus every Euro Championship game they’ve ever played, have had Under 2.5 Goals (W1-D4-L3).
Poland are winless in their last five games against Ukraine and, while we wouldn’t lay them without knowing for sure that their opponents are eliminated, we couldn’t recommended backing Robert Lewandowski and co. Four of the five head-to-heads have had Under 2.5 Goals and that’s our standout selection here despite the general increase in goals in the final round of group stage matches.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals 1.68