Euro 2020, Netherlands vs Ukraine: 3 key battles to watch out for in NED vs UKR: Netherlands return to a major international tournament after a seven-year gap when they face Ukraine at Euro 2020 on Monday (IST). The Group C clash is expected to be hotly-contested since both teams are favourites to clinch direct qualification to the knockout rounds.
Frank de Boer’s men are increasingly confident about putting on a strong display this summer. The Oranje were knocked out of the group stages without earning a point during their last appearance at the Euros in 2012, but are still burdened by high expectations due to their sheer quality.
Ukraine, on the other hand, have enjoyed a wonderful transformation under former captain and current coach Andriy Shevchenko. Considering they qualified for the competition after topping a group consisting of holders Portugal, Ukraine will know anything short of direct qualification to the knockout rounds will be a disappointment.
Ahead of the highly-promising clash between Netherlands and Ukraine at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, we take a look at the 3 key player battles to watch out for on Sunday.
Euro 2020, Netherlands vs Ukraine: 3 key battles to watch out for in NED vs UKR:
Euro 2020, Netherlands vs Ukraine: Key Battle 1
Frenkie de Jong vs Oleksandr Zinchenko
Both teams are expected to rely heavily on their midfielders to seize control of the game. At the heart of it will be an interesting battle as De Jong and Zinchenko come up against each other.
De Jong will look to influence play from a slightly deeper role whereas Zinchenko is often tasked with the duty of fulfilling a slightly advanced role in midfield for Ukraine. As such, the midfielders are almost certain to be out to nullify each other.
Whoever manages to get the better of the other, is expected to have a very strong impact on the outcome of the game.
Euro 2020, Netherlands vs Ukraine: Key Battle 2
Ruslan Malinovskyi vs Marten de Roon
Atalanta midfielder Malinovskyi could be deployed in a manner in which he plays just off the target man Roman Yaremchuk. There is no doubt denying his quality on the ball, but he may have to deal with the firefighting of his club teammate De Roon.
The duo are well aware of their individual abilities thanks to their remarkable partnership at club level. However, they are not expected to go easy on each other on Monday. As friends turn into foes, it will be interesting to watch who blinks first.
If Malinovskyi can emerge on top, Ukraine can dare to take the game to their opponents and maybe even come away with something in the end.
Euro 2020, Netherlands vs Ukraine: Key Battle 3
Memphis Depay vs Ilya Zabarnyi
Plenty of hopes are riding on Netherlands’ talismanic forward ahead of their Group C opener. Depay has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona and has been in sensational form as well.
The 27-year-old Dutchman will most likely come up against a very young Zabarnyi, who could start in the heart of defence for Ukraine. Although the Dynamo Kyiv defender impressed during his breakout season in Ukraine last season, Zabarnyi is still largely inexperienced at international level.
It could be a baptism by fire for Zabrnyi on Monday, especially if Depay can carry forward his sparkling form leading up to the tournament.