Sports Mole preview Wednesday’s Nations League clash between Scotland and Ukraine, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Less than four months after battling in the World Cup qualifiers, Scotland and Ukraine meet in the UEFA Nations League Wednesday.
They both ultimately missed out on a place at Qatar 2022, but occupy the top two spots in League B Group 1 with one game less over the other two nations.
After falling at the penultimate hurdle of qualification for a first World Cup since 1998 – beaten 3-1 by Ukraine at Hampden Park amid emotional scenes – Scotland have started their League of Nations campaign Nations this summer with six points from their first three matches.
After beating Armenia home and away, Steve ClarkThe team are second in League B Group 1, one point behind their Ukrainian counterparts and two ahead of the Republic of Ireland, despite losing 3-0 at Dublin in their second match.
Scotland now face Ukraine twice either side of the second leg against Ireland, so the events of the coming week will shape their Nations League fate; decide if they can qualify for the first level of competition for the first time.
Since ending 2021 with six straight wins, the Tartan Army have won just two of their six subsequent outings – both against the Armenian minnows – but there have been green shoots of recovery for a nation starving for success lately.
With both Glasgow giants back in the big time, as they take part in this year’s Champions League group stage, and the national side having featured at Euro 2020, Clarke’s men will have keen to regain momentum and make the fall action a win. beginning.
On their way to Scotland on Wednesday – and then next Tuesday, at their temporary home in Krakow – will be a Ukrainian side who have endured much adversity over the past few months, and also narrowly missed out on a place in Qatar by losing against Wales in the play-off final.
No competitive football has been played in the war-torn country since December, when Prime Minister Ukrayinska Liha stopped for her winter break as matches were due to resume in late February until the Russian invasion.
Despite the dangers, a new league season kicked off in Kyiv last month, with all league games being played in the capital and further west, and Ukraine’s top clubs are also back in European competition – although ‘with revamped teams; stripped of foreign stars.
Since their heartbreaking defeat at the Cardiff City Stadium, Oleksandr PetrakovThe side began their Nations League campaign unbeaten, and after beating Ireland and Armenia in their opening two games, they recently came up against Stephane Kennyon the Lodz side.
Dropping their record by 100%, Ukraine were held 1-1 after Artem Dovbyk equalized one Nathan Collins opener, but they still top League B Group 1 with seven points.
Previously relegated from League A under controversial circumstances – their decisive game with Switzerland was called off due to an outbreak of COVID-19 and UEFA subsequently forced them to forfeit points – Ukraine are sure to motivation this week, for a number of reasons.
Scotland Nations League Form:
Form of Scotland (all competitions):
Form of the League of Nations of Ukraine:
Form Ukraine (all competitions):
While the Scottish captain Andy Robertson will miss through injury for each of their three games this month, Arsenal’s timely return Kieran Tierney at least makes up for it, and the former Celtic full-back will start on the hosts’ left flank.
Steve Clarke has also brought in the Newcastle United winger ryan fraserwho withdrew from a previous squad due to injury but was later seen to be in attendance at his club’s training.
Hibernian centre-back Ryan Porteous receives his first convocation, because the two John Soutar and Liam Cooper are sidelined, while the midfield pair Jack Ryan and Kenny McLean are back in contention following long-term injuries. Despite a lack of playing time this season, Billy Gilmour, Jack Hendry and Anthony Ralston could all feature too.
While Robertson is out for Scotland, an equally influential southpaw will be out for Ukraine as Arsenal Oleksandr Zinchenko recently suffered a calf injury in training and may not return to action until next month.
Dynamo Kyiv Mykola Shaparenko suffered a ruptured ACL during his club’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahçe earlier this month, so joins Zinchenko on the sidelines.
Starlet of Shakhtar Donetsk Mykhaylo Mudryk and captain Andriy Yarmolenko are both part of a familiar-looking team, and both should start supporting one or the other Roman Yaremchuk and Artem Dovbyk up front.
Possible starting line-up for Scotland:
Gordon; Hendry, Hanley, McKenna; Patterson, McGinn, McGregor, Tierney; Fraser, Adams, Christie
Possible starting line-up for Ukraine:
Moon; Karavayev, Zabarnyi, Matviyenko, Mykolenko; Kovalenko, Sydorchuk, Malinovskyi; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Mudryk
We say: Scotland 1-2 Ukraine
Having enjoyed a return to relative ‘normalcy’, the local Ukrainian players will now be fit and ready to impose their style of play on a Scottish side which have stumbled a bit over the past year.
By staying on track for a return to the Nations League top flight, the visitors can score twice and bring maximum points back to Hampden.
For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.