Ukraine vs. France Pick – Euro 2012 Championship Group D

Ukraine vs. France -2012 Euro Championship Group D Match Preview, Kiev Olympic Stadium, Kiev Ukraine: 2:45 PM Friday June 15, 2012

By Jason Green, Soccer Handicapper,

Match Odds: Ukraine 3.75 / France 2.10 / Draw 3.25
Moneyline: Ukraine +275 / France +110 / Draw +225
Over/Under: 2.5 goals

Bet the Ukraine/France game at reduced odds at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

After 1 match in Group D play Ukraine sits alone in first place with 3 points with France and England with 1 points and Sweden with 0 points. The co-hosts beat Sweden 2-1 in a comeback win and now Ukraine will have their hands full facing a French squad that will likely need to win to advance to the knockout phase of this competition.

France played to a 1-1 draw in their opening match facing England and while they did show some solid play they were a little sluggish on defense and could not crack the English D.

With their draw facing England France has not lost in their last 21 matches. On the other side of the coin they do not have a win in their last big 8 international competition matches. After their horrid showing in the 2010 World Cup there is a lot of pressure on France, as they came into the 2012 Euro with high hopes.

Many experts though 35-year old ex Chelsea FW Andriy Shevchenko did not have anything left, but he scored the 2 goals in the win over Sweden. He did not look good in the first half, but his 2 2nd half headers were the decisive goals in the Sweden win. He will be counted on again to pressure the solid defense of the French.

The French won the time of possession in their opening draw (60% to 40%), but that left them open to the counter attack. Ukraine will not have many chances to score and they have to pounce on counter attack opportunities they get in this big match.

The Ukraine defense played well in the win over Sweden, but they really only had one main player to worry about in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored the lone goal for the Swedes, However, in this match they must play solid defense, especially against FW Karim Benzema and attacking MF’s Franck Ribry and Samir Nasri.

Benzema had a couple of solid shots on goal in the draw against England and I think Ribry and the French MF will get him more scoring chances in this match. I look for him to score at least one goal against Ukraine.

Andriy Yarmolenko has to help out Shevchenko on offense, but I think the French will play great defense in this match and neither of these guys will score. Also Yevhen Konoplyanka played great on the left flank in the Sweden match and he will have to do so again so the French defense does not just defend the middle of the field.

Ukraine G Andriy Pyatov played well in the win over Sweden, but he will be peppered in this match and he will allow at least 2 goals.

French central back defensive duo of Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami looked a little sluggish in the draw facing England and they have to play better in this match. Not only do they have to play good defense, but also they have to help out on offense and feed the MF the ball early.

France did win the time of possession battle, but they did not get out and run much. They may want to try to change that in this match, as Ukraine may pack the back defense just like England did.

Jason’s Pick to Win: Ukraine has the fans behind them and are coming off a great win over Sweden, but even with the French squad under a ton of pressure I think they will step up. Shevchenko was the hero in the win over Sweden, but the French will shut him down and now allow the co-host to score. The French simply have too much talent and they will show it this Friday night. I look for a tough first half, but France will break the Ukraine defense in the 2nd half and win by a score of 2-0.