Ukraine vs Czech Republic – Tuesday, October 16, 19:45 BST/20:45 CEST – Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv, Ukraine
Ukraine will host the Czech Republic on UEFA Nations League’s League B – Group 1 Matchday 3. While a Ukrainian victory would secure promotion to League A, the Czechs will attempt to challenge Ukraine for the top spot in League B – Group 1.
Having missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Ukrainians have rejuvenated their efforts under Andriy Shevchenko. The Yellow-Blues are undefeated in 2018, having won four matches and drawn three. Moreover, they have outscored their opponents by 11 to five.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is their form in the new UEFA Nations League. The Ukrainians hold a perfect record, which has made them shoot up in UEFA Nations League predictions, having earned two victories from two matches and they sit at the top of League B – Group 1. Should they defeat the Czechs on Matchday 3, this will secure their promotion to the competition’s League A. Also, the victor of each UEFA Nations League Group will be automatically placed in the Euro Cup 2020 qualification playoffs. Thus, for once in their recent history, things seem to be on the horizon for the Ukrainian national team.
The Yellow-Blues recently impressed in their friendly against the Italians last week, and while they may be without their star player Andriy Yarmolenko, the team demonstrated that they could hold their own. Should they maintain their defensive composure, the Ukrainians will surely gain promotion to League A.
The Czechs will be no pushover, however, as they have found a resurgence in form. At the start of 2018, the Czechs lost four of their six matches in all competitions. Moreover, they were outscored by their opposition 14 to seven. Given this poor form, in addition to their UEFA Nations League loss to Ukraine last month, it was believed the Czechs would be relegated to the competition’s League C.
Following the September 2018 international break, the Czech Football Federation (CFF) fired manager Karel Jarolím. During his tenure, the Czechs failed to advance out the Euro Cup 2016 Group Stage. Also, his side missed out on a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. With an abysmal start to 2018 and a loss in the UEFA Nations League’s League B – Group 1, the CFF decided it was time for him to go.
Jaroslav Šilhavý was then appointed as the new manager, and he has had an immediate impact on the national team. With limited exposure and training with his side, the Czechs travelled to Slovakia on Matchday 2 of the UEFA Nations League’s League B – Group 1. Many expected a comfortable Slovak win, yet to their surprise, it was the visitors, who ran away with all three points. Given their resurgence in form, Ukraine will need to be wary of this new Czech team.
Ukraine vs Czech Republic – Players to Watch:
Andriy Pyatov #12 – Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Following the retirement of Ukrainian legend Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, Andriy Pyatov has been Ukraine’s starting goalkeeper. The Shakhtar Donetsk player has competed with Ukraine throughout 2010, 2014 and 2016 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the Euro Cup 2012 and 2016 competitions. Throughout these five competitions, Ukraine failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in three attempts. Moreover, they failed to advance out of the Group Stage at both Euro competitions. While these were team efforts, Pyatov was to blame on many occasions. Now, with potential promotion to the UEFA Nations League’s League A on the line, Pyatov will need to avoid any unforced errors.
Patrik Schick#19 – Czech Republic (AS Roma)
Patrik Schick joined AS Roma on loan from UC Sampdoria during the 2017/18 Serie A season. During this period, the young Czech forward impressed, where he earned 22 appearances. His performance throughout the season saw him earn a permanent move to the Italian club, and he has translated his club success to his national team. He is currently the top scorer in Group 1, having scored two goals in two matches, and he will look to add to his tally as his side travel to Ukraine on Matchday 3. A Czech victory would see Ukraine and the Czech Republic tied on points with one final match to play, and should the Czechs hope to gain a playoff spot for the Euro Cup 2020 competition; they will need to rely on their young striker.
Ukraine vs Czech Republic Match Statistics:
- Ukraine and the Czech Republic are tied on head to head. Both sides have won once and lost once, and their third matchup was a draw. Ukraine leads the head to head in competitive fixtures, however, having earned a 2-1 victory in the UEFA Nations League last month.
- Ukraine are undefeated in 2018, having won four matches and drawn three.
- Patrik Schick is currently the highest scorer in League B – Group 1, having scored two goals in two matches.
- Andriy Yarmolenko and Artem Kravets are carrying minor injuries are doubts for this match.
- The Czechs will have a fully-fit squad for this fixture.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Ukraine vs Czech Republic – 1-1
Ukraine vs Czech Republic – Projected Lineups
Pyatov – Karavaev, Burda, Rakitskiy, Matviyenko – Stepanenko, Malinovsky – Konoplyanka, Marlos, Zinchenko – Yaremchuk
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Vaclík – Novák, Čelůstka, Brabec, Gebre Selassie – Souček, Pavelka – Vydra, Dočkal, Zmrhal – Schick
Manager: Jaroslav Šilhavý
Mark Temnycky 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 @MTem33