By Antony Jordan
Sunday’s Euro 2016 football is the third day of action in France and the three games being played today sees something for everyone. The biggest match of the day sees the side that lifted the World Cup in Brazil two years ago – Germany – take on Ukraine, while earlier in the day Northern Ireland make their debut at the Euros as they face the free scoring Robert Lewandowski and his Poland team-mates.
The first match of the day sees Group D kick off with Turkey v Croatia at the Parc des Princes and we’re previewing all three of Sunday’s Euro 2016 matches with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our top Euro 2016 picks.
The late night match from day three of the 2016 European Championships sees the current world champions and three time winners of the Euros meet Ukraine for just the second in 15 years following a fantastic 3-3 draw on November 11th 2011 that saw Germany score two late goals to level that friendly clash. The man who scored that last goal was Thomas Muller and the Bayern Munich striker has scored five goals at the last two World Cup tournaments so much is expected of him in France this summer, but can he hit the ground running to see the side looking for their first European Championship title in two decades start with victory?
Despite being the big favourites to start their campaign with all three points the Germans have not have the best time of things ever since they lifted the World Cup two years ago. They have suffered seven losses, including losing to England and Slovakia since the end of March this year following losses to both Poland and Ireland in the qualifying group. On top of this they have experienced a number of injuries in the lead up to the competition, but as world champions they will still believe that they’ll win this match.
Ukraine have recently appointed their record goalscorer Andriy Shevchenko as assistant boss of the national side to assist them in scoring goals and it is already paying off with seven goals in their last two matches against Romania and Albania – both of whom showed impressive defensive abilities in their opening matches – when they had scored this many in the previous seven games. Their key players are the pacey and threatening wingers Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka who will certainly cause a threat against a German side with one clean sheet in nine matches and while Germany will have much of the possession and chances we see Ukraine hitting them on the counter attack at scoring at least one goal too.
Euro 2016 Pick
Nice hosts its first game of Euro 2016 this Sunday afternoon as Northern Ireland make their debut in this competition against a side that is expected to follow the Germans out of Group C and into the last 16 stage. The main threat for the Poles is Bayern Munich hitman Robert Lewandowski who scored more than 50 goals this season in Germany and Europe as well as equalling the European Championship qualifying record of 13 goals as Poland followed Germany to France. However, despite these goalscoring exploits and their billing as odds-on favourites to triumph will this be as easy as things look for Poland?
Coming into the match Northern Ireland sit two places higher than their opposition in the FIFA rankings thanks to becoming the first fifth seeded side to secure a place at the Finals. On top of this they are one of the tightest sides defensively in France this summer with just one goal conceded in five matches and they hold the longest unbeaten run of any side at the Euros, having won six and drawn six of their last 12.
Michael O’Neill’s side will certainly come into the game full of confidence as they appear in their first major international tournament since the 1986 World Cup and after seeing Wales triumph on their first appearance since 1958 yesterday they will feel that they can get something from this match. The last two meetings between the sides in qualification for the 2010 World Cup saw a 3-2 home win for Northern Ireland and a 1-1 draw in Poland, and if Northern Ireland can once again martial their defence then we see them getting something against the Poles.
Euro 2016 Pick
The opening match on day three of the Euros sees the two sides who have been drawn together for the World Cup qualifiers meet in Paris as Croatia look to go a third match unbeaten against their Group D compatriots following a 3-0 victory and a 0-0 draw in qualification for the last European Championships. Of the two results, after taking a look at the sides, we feel that this match is more likely to be like the goalless draw as both sides have more quality in their midfields than up front and should start with a single striker.
Both of these sides come into this opener in excellent form with Turkey having lost just one of their last 16 games since November 2014 and they have won four of their five games since the end of March, losing only to England. Croatia have won six and drawn one of their last seven, including putting ten past San Marino in their final warm up match, and with players of the calibre of Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić of Real Madrid and Barcelona creating and grafting in the centre of the park with Juventus’ Mario Mandžukić up front to score the goals if either side is likely to win this match it’ll be the Croatians thanks to this core of quality players, who are just ahead of Turkey with their star player Arda Turan.
Turkey are likely to start veteran Burak Yılmaz or inexperienced Cenk Tosun as their lone striker in this match and while both will test the Croatian backline but we feel that the trio of players will just give the Eastern Europeans a slight edge in this match.