Our prediction for this match:
Dnipro-Arena will host Thursday’s friendly between Ukraine and Northern Ireland, the two teams meet for the first time since June 2016. Back then Northern Ireland shocked Ukraine 2-0 at the European Championship finals, meaning that Andriy Shevchenko’s troops are hungry for revenge. The Ukrainians did well to hold France to a 1-1 draw in the World Cup qualifiers, and they are surely capable of beating Belarus at home ground.
Keep in mind, though, that Man City man Oleksandar Zinchenko is likely to be rested following his participation in the Champions League final. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, aim to build on a 3-0 win over Malta, but Ukraine will pose a much bigger threat for the visitors than their previous rivals. Considering that Andriy Shevchenko’s men are hungry for revenge, we believe that punters can find value in betting on the home team.
Highlighted Player (Andriy Yarmolenko):
Arguably the most exciting Ukrainian player at the moment, Andriy Yarmolenko is the 26-year-old forward, who can play wide as a winger and fill in numerous positions in attack. Over the past few years there has been a gathering feeling that the player has outgrown the Ukrainian League and that with the player surpassing the 200-game mark for Dynamo Kyiv Yarmolenko should be heading west to Europe’s brighter stage.
Wanted and scouted by Spanish giants Barcelona, Yarmolenko attracted interest from many other clubs, predominantly from the Premier League, and was even close to joining Everton in summer 2016, but the Goodison outfit’s offer came too late to the Ukrainian club.
Talented forward is a free-scoring machine who has already scored more than 115 goals for the club he spent his entire career with. The two-footed winger is equally adept through the middle and is a versatile force that would be a good addition to any self-respecting European side.
Yarmolenko made hi Ukraine debut in 2009 and has so far been capped 63 times, during which he scored 26 goals for the national set-up.
Highlighted Team (Northern Ireland):
Competing first under the Irish flag and then as an independent entity, Northern Ireland are one of world’s oldest national teams, but they haven’t enjoyed too much success in history. Led by Danny Blanchflower, the Irish impressed at their first ever World Cup finals appearance, reaching the quarter-finals in 1958, but they have since only played at the 1982 and 1986 tournaments, reaching round 2 and crashing out in the group stage respectively.
Northern Ireland had failed to qualify for 13 successive European Championship finals before finally booking their ticket to the Euro 2016 in France, and the fans hope this success will only be a sign of things to come. Without a doubt, George Best is the most famous footballer to have ever put on the green shirt, scoring 9 goals in 37 appearances, but he couldn’t help the national team close the gap behind Europe’s top sides.
Some of the other high-profile footballers include Pat Jennings, Aaron Hughes, David Healy, Keith Gillespie, Steven Davies and Gareth McAuley.