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England versus Ukraine betting preview

The term every game is a cup final is a football cliché in the fine tradition of football clichés. But for England the three remaining games that they have left in Group H really are cup finals. "We are getting closer to the situation where we are either going to achieve our goals and qualify for the World Cup or we are going to fail," said manger Roy Hodgson yesterday.

The group is incredibly finely poised, England (15) sit top on goal difference from Montenegro who’ve played a game more, both teams are one point of the Ukraine. For England home tests against Montenegro (11th October) and Poland (15th October) are to come, England secured a point in the away draws against both of those teams and you suspect Hodgson would settle for the same outcome tonight in Kyiv where they’ll face a resurgent Ukraine.

The home side are unbeaten under Mikhail Fomenko and since he took over in December have they have been mightily impressive, securing away wins in Poland and Montenegro, thrashing San Marino and defeating Moldova, albeit by a slender margin.

Indeed given that England only secured a draw thanks to a Frank Lampard penalty in the 87th minute when the two sides met at Wembley 364 days ago it’s actually a surprise that Ukraine aren’t currently favourites. There’s not a lot to choose between the two to be fair with Ukraine a general 15/8 shot and England 9/5 in comparison.

It’s probable that only five of England’s line-up from one year ago will start in Kyiv, one of those who’ll likely be retained in James Milner who’s favourite to replace the suspended Danny Welbeck. The fact that he’s likely to get the nod over Ashley Young tells you everything you need to know about Roy Hodgson’s gameplan for the evening. The draw is 21/10 whilst 0-0 can be backed at 7/1 or alternatively ‘no goalscorer’, which has the bonus of own goals not counting, can be backed at the same price.

For those that are pessimistic about England’s chances but fear that England will park the bus Ukraine draw no bet can be backed at 5/6, whilst with England likely to play on the counter-attack and Ukraine susceptible to pace Theo Walcott as first goalscorer at 8/1 could appeal.

England will be hoping for a better result than when they last trudged off the pitch in Kyiv, they’d just been knocked out of Euro 2012. Thankfully this one can’t go to penalties, but if it’s 0-0 after 90 minutes then England will take it. It’s not going to be one for the purists that’s for sure.
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