Ukraine are set to disappoint their legions of fans who have waited to see them co-host Euro 2012 by finishing bottom of Group D.
The nation that’s staging the tournament jointly with Poland are 11/5 with Bet365
to be bottom of the pile at the end of the six group fixtures and that looks a price well worth taking.
Oleg Blokhin’s side look capable of scoring goals and although Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Voronin are into the veteran stage now, Andriy Yarmolenko is a young talent about whom much will be heard from the European Championship onwards.
Straggly-haired Bayern Munich midfielder Anatoly Tymoschuk will harness things in the centre of the pitch, but it’s in defence where the Ukraine are expected to come unstuck.
In particular, Blokhin has had terrible problems finding a first-choice goalkeeper as three contenders have dropped out of the running for varying reasons – two because of injury and another having been suspended for using a banned diuretic.
Andriy Pyatov of Shakhtar Donetsk is likely to take over, but the situation is far from ideal especially with the Ukraine having a back line that contains few familiar names.
Key to the Ukraine’s prospects of putting on an impressive performance will be their first match against Sweden, to whom they lost the last time they played in a home friendly last August.
With France and England looking the strongest sides in the group, the Ukraine cannot bank on taking much from those two matches even though they will have home advantage.
The French look a much more cohesive unit this time under Laurent Blanc after the meltdown in South Africa, while England will have Wayne Rooney back for their final match against the Ukraine, fresh and up for it after missing the first two games due to suspension.
Sweden are an effective tournament side who have a knack of grinding out results in this sort of format and while the Scandinavians are probably not quite good enough to go through, they should have a bit too much nous to ensure they finish third ahead of the Ukraine.
Recommendation: Ukraine to finish bottom (11/5)