Mark Temnycky –
Lithuania vs Ukraine – Saturday, September 7, 17:00 BST/18:00 CEST – LFF Stadium, Vilnius, Lithuania
After a brief hiatus from international football, Europe’s 55 national teams will resume their qualification campaigns as they look to advance to the 2020 European Championships next summer. On Euro 2020 Qualification Group Stage Matchday 5, Lithuania will host Ukraine.
The Lithuanians have struggled this campaign as they have collected only one point from their opening three matches. They will be disappointed as they were unable to defeat Luxembourg on two occasions, and the Lithuanians were outplayed in their match against Serbia.
With five matches remaining, should they have any hope of advancing to the European Championships next summer, Lithuania will have to restart their campaign. The Lithuanians previously struggled in the inaugural 2018/19 UEFA Nations League, where they were placed in League C’s Group 4 against Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro. They finished last in the group, having collected zero points from six matches, and were relegated to League D.
Simply put, Lithuania will look for any positive signs in this upcoming fixture to boost their morale. Another loss would derail any hopes of qualifying for next year’s tournament, and they would likely have to turn to the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League competition.
Meanwhile, Ukraine have had a strong qualification campaign. Having won their UEFA Nations League group, the Zbirna have continued their success in Euro 2020 Qualification Group B. They are currently undefeated, having won three of their first four matches and kept three clean sheets in the process. The Ukrainians have also only conceded one goal in four games, signifying they have vanquished their defensive woes from previous campaigns.
Their biggest issue, to date, is still the lack of a striker. Two of Ukraine’s current top scorers in this qualification campaign are midfielders, and while the Zbirna have been successful, this is an area they will need to address. It was not a factor against Luxembourg or Serbia, but should Ukraine hope to win their group they will need someone to take on a strong Portuguese defense. Moreover, should Ukraine qualify for the European Championships, the lack of a forward will surely hinder their possibilities of advancing from the competition’s group stage.
These are hypothetical scenarios, as Ukraine still need to play their remaining four matches in Group B. Luckily, should they not advance directly for next summer’s competition, they will have a second opportunity of advancing to the European finals via the play-off qualification route, although this will be much more challenging. Overall, if Ukraine want to put themselves into a good position toward qualifying directly for the finals, they will need to win this match.
Lithuania vs Ukraine – Players to Watch:
Fedor Černych #22 – Lithuania (Orenburg)
Currently the captain of the Lithuanian national team, Fedor Černych will look to help his side earn their first victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualification Group B. The forward has scored one goal in three games. Thus he will look to improve to his tally in this match. With much at stake, he will also look to inspire his side in this match.
Yevhen Konoplyanka #10 – Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk)
The former Sevilla and Schalke player turned many heads on this summer’s deadline day as he returned home to his native Ukraine. Yevhen Konoplyanka failed to establish himself as a regular during his time abroad, but he has always delivered for his national team. Having scored two goals in four matches, it is no wonder why he is an instrumental part of the national team.
Lithuania vs Ukraine – Match Statistics:
- Lithuania and Ukraine have faced one another on eight occasions. The Lithuanians won two, drew one and lost the remaining five.
- The last competitive fixture between these two national teams came during the Euro 2008 qualification campaign. Lithuania and Ukraine split this series with a win and a loss each.
- Lithuania are at the bottom of Group B with one point from three matches.
- Ukraine are at the top of Group B with 10 points from a possible 12.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Lithuania vs Ukraine – 1-3
Bartkus –Vaitkūnas, Klimavičius, Palionis, Andriuškevičius – Baravykas, Šimkus, Slivka, Mikoliūnas–Laukžemis, Černych
Manager: Valdas Urbonas
Pyatov – Karavayev, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Mykolenko – Malinovsyi, Stepanenko, Zinchenko – Yarmolenko, Moraes, Konoplyanka
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Mark Temnycky is an accredited AIPS journalist who reports on the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Outside of the Futbolgrad Network, he covers Manchester City for SB Nation’s Bitter and Blue. Follow him @MTemnycky