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Ukraine vs Austria preview: Second spot up for grabs in Group C finale
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James Nalton
LiveScore
Andriy Yarmolenko celebrates scoring against North Macedonia – his second goal of the European Championships
Andriy Yarmolenko celebrates scoring against North Macedonia – his second goal of the European Championships

Group C: Ukraine vs Austria, kick-off 5pm (UK time, ITV4)

Ukraine and Austria go into the final game of Group C level on points as they look to book their spots in the last 16.

They each lost to group leaders the Netherlands and defeated North Macedonia, but Ukraine sit ahead of Austria thanks to an extra goal scored.

The winner of this game will be rewarded with a trip to London to face Italy on Saturday, though this might not be seen as much of a reward, finishing among the best third-placed teams won’t offer a much easier route.

It makes for an interesting dynamic, with a draw likely enough for both to progress as four points should put them among the four best third-placed teams.

The story so far

Ukraine were involved in one of the games of the tournament on matchday one. Unfortunately for them, it was a 3-2 defeat against the Netherlands.

They then beat North Macedonia 2-1 in their second game with Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk again their scorers.

It’s a similar story for Austria, who went one better by defeating the minnows 3-1 before losing 2-0 to the Netherlands.

Despite the temptation to settle for a draw, there's plenty of motivation to go through as the second-best team in the group, not least not having to wait more than 48 hours to find out their last-16 fate. 

Yarmolenko’s Ukraine

Andriy Yarmolenko has been a decisive influence for Ukraine cutting in from the right-hand side
Andriy Yarmolenko has been a decisive influence for Ukraine cutting in from the right-hand side

West Ham's Yarmolenko has been one of the standout players in Euro 2020 having scored in each of his side’s games. 

After an injury-hit season with the Hammers, which limited him to just a single Premier League start, Yarmolenko has been able to show what he’s all about at this tournament.

His goals in Ukraine’s matches so far have highlighted his directness, useful size, and dangerous left foot.

Yarmolenko’s strike against the Netherlands would be in the running for goal of the tournament were it not for Patrik Schick’s wonder-strike from the halfway line for the Czech Republic against Scotland.

And his assist for the impressive striker Yaremchuk in the North Macedonia game means Yarmolenko has been involved in three of Ukraine’s four goals at the tournament.

While everyone else is exhausted after a long season, the 31-year-old's injury issues mean he is now fresher than most.

Arnautovic not out of it

Marko Arnautovic, the gifted but temperamental forward, returns from suspension having been banned for one match for insulting an opponent during his goal celebration against North Macedonia.

The former West Ham and Stoke player came off the bench in that opening game to score his side’s third goal, taking advantage of some slack defending to burst into the box, round keeper Stole Dimitrievski and slot into the empty net.

Forced to sit out the Netherlands match following his outburst, he could be set to play a big part in this final group game.

Explosive, direct and powerful, the 32-year-old can be integral for Austria, if harnessed properly.

Ukraine-ing shots

Ukraine have been one of the tournament's surprise packages under legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko
Ukraine have been one of the tournament's surprise packages under legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko

Following the completion of the second round of games, no team had taken more shots on target than Ukraine.

This has made them one of the best teams in the tournament to watch and also means they have a high expected goals number.

Only the Netherlands (4.6) had a higher expected goals tally after matchday two, making Andriy Shevchenko’s side one of the surprise entertainers with a xG total fo 4.3.

Alaba Attack

Austria coach Franco Foda was disappointed with his side’s attacking play against the Netherlands.

He said: “We created a few opportunities ourselves but were not clinical enough to finish them.

“We tried to play around and down the wings instead of penetrating the penalty box.

“Either we didn’t cross or we didn’t shoot. We weren’t determined enough, we lacked purpose. It wasn’t enough going forward.”

David Alaba's touch map highlights his tendency to affect all areas of the pitch
David Alaba's touch map highlights his tendency to affect all areas of the pitch

David Alaba, who will join Real Madrid from Bayern Munich after the tournament, is arguably Austria’s most talented player and is certainly their most versatile.

This presents Foda with the challenge of finding the right role for his star man, who has started as part of a back three in both Group C games.

Playing Alaba in a position where he can have the most influence on a game in an attacking sense could begin to solve some of the problems the manager highlighted after the Netherlands game.

Tags

UkraineAustriaEuropean Championship
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