Ukraine will try to pull an upset heading into a Euro 2016 qualifier match at Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Friday. The squads enter the match deadlocked at nine points in Group C.
Spain, the current holders of the Euro trophy, come into the match leading Ukraine on goal differential, with a comfortable margin of 10 to five. Friday’s match carries serious weight in the group, and will be a match that Spain likely expects to win. Manager Vincente Del Bosque has played with lineup changes to help his squad find its form.
Del Bosque will have to work around Chelsea’s Diego Costa being out of the lineup, after the striker injured his hamstring in a Premier League match against Hull City. The injury adds another obstacle to the 26-year-old’s checkered international career.
"My history with the national team is that it still hasn't really started," Costa said to the Spanish newspaper Marca, according to ESPN. "I haven't done anything yet. The national team is something I think of.
"I am sorry that I cannot bring what I would like to. Something always happens when I get close to playing for Spain. It bothers me from a personal standpoint but I hope this will end.
I've gone through a lot to be in the national team and I hope good times will come."
Forward Juami and midfielder Vitolo have been called up for the match, according to a Reuters report, and could look to impact the match. Costa’s Chelsea teammate Cesc Fabregas might be relied upon to replace Costa’s production, either as a roving striker or a playmaking midfielder.
Spain are coming off a convincing 3-0 win over Belarus in their latest Euro fixture against Belarus on Nov. 15. Forward Isco earned his first goal for Spain in the match. Ukraine are in good form as well, having easily dispatched Luxembourg 3-0 in November. Both squads have suffered their only defeat to Group C leaders Slovakia, who have earned a perfect 12 points through the first four matches.
Winger Andriy Yarmolenko has been the star for Ukraine, scoring all three goals against Luxembourg. The 25-year-old told UEFA.com that the side will be prepared for the matchup against the European giants.
“We prepare in exactly the same way for every opponent," he said. "We'll dedicate an hour to watching them. It was the same for San Marino, we watched four or five of their games, so for Spain we'll watch even more – definitely not less! We know Spain very well and how difficult it will be against them."
Date: Friday, March 27
Start Time: 3:30 p.m.
TV Channel: ESPN 2
Live Stream: Watch online at Watch ESPN
Prediction: Ukraine are playing with confidence, but Spain will hold most of the possession and eventually break the defense down.
Spain over Ukraine, 2-0