After opening the European Under-21 Championship with a 1-1 draw against 11/8 tournament favourites Spain, England Under-21s are in need of a victory against Ukraine to boost their chances of reaching the semi-finals.
Stuart Pearce has come in for a surprising amount of criticism since Sunday’s game for the crime of being outplayed by the best team going, whereas in reality his ability to guide the Young Lions to a point in such a tough tie should have earned him praise.
The 2009 runners-up haven’t been in great form, their 2-0 pre-tournament friendly success against Norway marking one of only two wins achieved in their last seven matches. Despite that, they are 4/5 to beat Ukraine and should justify that billing.
Ukraine failed to impress in their opening fixture, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Czech Republic in which they netted a late consolation, and they lack the star names of some of their rivals, with every member of their squad based at home.
If you believe that they can cause an upset then odds of 11/4 are available on them winning with the draw offered at 9/4.
England Under-21s have faced them just once before, back in 2004, and they triumphed 3-1 on that occasion. Over 2.5 goals again looks the way to go at 11/10, especially as Ukraine failed to score only twice in their ten qualifying encounters.
Odds of 10/3 and both teams scoring and England taking the points are appealing given both Ukraine’s tendency to get among the goals and the fact that, despite that they have lost two of their last three competitive games in spite of that.
Danny Welbeck was England’s hero against Spain with a delightfully taken goal and can be backed at 5/1 to strike first on Wednesday night, with Daniel Sturridge the favourite at 9/2.