Mark Temnycky –
Germany vs Ukraine – Saturday, 14 November 2020 – 19:45 GMT/20:45 CEST – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany
After a few drab international friendlies in midweek, Germany and Ukraine will shift their focus to the UEFA Nations League. Germany will host Ukraine in Leipzig on Matchday 5 in League A Group 4.
The Germans have had a mixed history in this competition. Die Mannschaft finally earned their first victory in the Nations League after defeating the Ukrainians on Matchday 3. During their previous encounter, the Germans dominated the midfield, and they were not threatened by the Ukrainian attack. It was not until a late penalty when Ukraine made the score more interesting, but the result for Germany was never in doubt.
Aside from their victory over the Zbirna, the Germans have struggled in the competition. During their two encounters against Switzerland, die Mannschaft earned to two draws. The Swiss held the Germans at bay, and they made things challenging for the Germans on both occasions. As for Spain, the Germans dominated the majority of the game on Matchday 1, but they conceded a late goal and the spoils were shared. Die Mannschaft have recently had a poor habit of conceding late goals, and on two of these three occasions, the Germans threw away their victories and they had to settle for two disappointing draws.
In what was initially a divided contest, the margins within League A Group 4 have now narrowed. Spain sit at the top of the group with seven points, while Germany and Ukraine are level with six points, and Switzerland prop up the table on two points. Given these tight results, the Germans will have everything to play for on Matchday 5. A victory against the Ukrainians will put the Germans in a winner-take-all scenario against Spain on Matchday 6, where the victor will likely advance to the Nations League semi-finals next year. Given Germany’s recent struggles in international football, this would be a welcomed success.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainians have been rather inconsistent in 2020. The Zbirna previously went undefeated throughout the 2019 calendar year as they topped their Euro 2020 qualification group ahead of Portugal and Serbia. One year later, the Zbirna looks like a very different team. The Ukrainians have played four Nations League matches and two international friendlies, but the Zbirna have only won two of these six matches, losing the remaining four.
To be fair, Ukraine have faced much stiffer competition in 2020, as they have experienced defeats against Spain, France, and Poland. The Zbirna were also hit by an injury and corona crisis in October 2020, where two-thirds of the national team withdrew. Despite these setbacks, the Ukrainian reserves earned an unlikely victory against Spain on Matchday 4, meaning they are only one point away from maintaining their place in the UEFA Nations League’s prestigious League A in 2022/23.
While some of the results may have been dreadful, the Nations League has presented the Ukrainians with a significant learning opportunity. For several years, the Ukrainian Association of Football scheduled meaningless friendlies against countries such as Malta or Cyprus. Ukrainian managers typically did not take these matches seriously, and few were bothered by lackluster performances in these fixtures. The introduction of the Nations League, however, has made international football more competitive. Ukraine won their inaugural group in the competition’s League B two years ago, thus promoting them to League A. Now, there is a real possibility that the Ukrainians will retain their place in League A for the 2022/23 season. While the results have not always been pretty, it does demonstrate that the Ukrainians are improving.
Overall, there is a lot at stake in this match. Should either team claim a victory, they will know that they will be one step closer toward qualifying for the UEFA Nations League’s semi-finals. Moreover, should Switzerland fail to beat Spain on Matchday 5, Germany and Ukraine would guarantee their place in League A for the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League. Die Mannschaft and the Zbirna should have fully fit squads available at their disposal, and it is expected that this will be an exciting contest between the two sides. How will these national teams fare on Matchday 5?
Germany vs Ukraine – Players to Watch:
Joshua Kimmich #6 – Germany (Bayern München)
Joshua Kimmich helped pull the strings during Germany’s Nations League match again Ukraine last month. The German helped dictate the run of play in midfield during that fixture, and his composure helped his side dominate the majority of the match. Overall, the Germans looked fairly comfortable against their Ukrainian opposition on Matchday 3. Will die Mannschaft replicate a similar performance on Matchday 5?
Roman Yaremchuk #9 – Ukraine (Gent)
Ukraine’s striker woes continue as Roman Yaremchuk has failed to score an international goal for Ukraine in 2020. Having played in Ukraine’s four Nations League matches and two international friendlies this year, the Ukrainian forward has struggled to make an impact in these six games. Yaremchuk will look to vanquish these bad omens as his national team take on Germany on Matchday 5 in League A’s Group 4.
Germany vs Ukraine – Match Statistics:
- Germany and Ukraine have faced each other on seven occasions. The Germans are undefeated in these encounters, having won four times and drawn the remaining three.
- The two national teams previously faced each other in their UEFA Nations League group last month, where Germany won 2-1.
- Germany and Ukraine are currently level in League A’s Group 4 with six points each.
- Germany will have a fully fit squad for this match.
- Ukraine’s Viktor Kovalenko, Viktor Tsygankov, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Serhiy Sydorchuk have tested positive for the coronavirus and they will not feature in this game.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Germany vs Ukraine – 2-1
Germany vs Ukraine – Possible Lineups:
Neuer – Ginter, Koch, Rüdiger – Havertz, Kimmich, Kroos, Sané – Goretzka – Werner, Gnabry
Manager: Joachim Löw
Pyatov – Konoplya, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Mykhaylychenko – Malinovskyi, Stepanenko, Zinchenko – Marlos, Yaremchuk, Zubkov
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky