Features

FLIP’s International Picks: Ukraine vs Wales

Written by Sam Hopkinson

Wales are being touted as potential dark horses to win Euro 2016, which shows the hallucinatory effect a couple of good results can have on fans and football journalists. The friendly with Ukraine is the last match Wales play before manager Chris Coleman announces his 23 man squad for the European Championship. Wales look a touch emaiciated without stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Hard to say what Ukraine’s lineup will look like– against Cyprus they took the opportunity to field an experimental team with players filling in for injuries and absences.

Defender

Ben Davies

Following a nasty blow to the head, the Tottenham defender should be fit to start this game. The Welshman has shared fullback duties with Danny Rose this season, Pochettino preferring to rotate both fullbacks regularly. Davies is often considered the better defender but more limited attacker. That said, Davies has a decent cross and a mean shot in his locker, tools that should put him ahead of Swansea defender Neil Taylor for the Euros.

Midfielder

Taras Stepanenko

The scorer of Ukraine’s winning goal against Cyprus in a hard-fought contest. Stepanenko, currently playing for Shaktar Donetsk, smashed in the winner by being in the right place at the right time. Although not one of the more recognisable names to British observers, Stepanenko might just undo a Welsh defence too, concerned with the more conventional attackers in yellow and blue. The only issue is Stepanenko’s disciplinary record– eight yellow cards and a red this season in around 20 appearances hints at a player who is too reckless, too often.

Forward

Andriy Yarmolenko

Allegedly turned down a €60 million move to China in the January transfer window, Yarmolenko has hinted that he might finally be ready for a move this summer. Everton are long-term admirers of the wide forward but are likely to face stiff competition from Arsenal and perhaps even Barcelona. Considering current club Dynamo Kyiv signed him for less that €200,000 they stand to make a large profit. Yarmolenko is fairly deadly, with 10 goals and 6 assists in the Ukrainian league, and 2 goals to his name in the Champions League.

Honourable Mention

Joe Ledley

Considering the paucity of Chris Coleman’s options for the Welsh midfield, Crystal Palace stalwart Ledley will have his work cut out for him. Palace’s diabolical form in the league has worried fans at Selhurst Park, but perhaps Ledley can show some class on the field for Wales at this trying time.

 

About the author

Sam Hopkinson

Sam has attended matches everywhere from Cambodia to Canada, and is a persistent Spurs fan. If he didn’t have football, he’d probably turn to a life of crime just to get that exhilarating fix. Superstitious enough to believe that picking a player for his fantasy team spells doom for the poor sod.