Mark Temnycky –
Ukraine vs Germany – Saturday, 10 October 2020 – 19:45 GMT/20:45 CEST – Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kyiv, Ukraine
After an entertaining September 2020 international break, the UEFA Nations League returns. Ukraine will host Germany in the competition’s Group 4 in League A on Saturday.
Ukraine find themselves in somewhat of a crisis. Days before the October 2020 international break, goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov and defensive midfielder Taras Stepanenko tested positive for coronavirus. The two players were forced to withdraw from the squad and, as a precaution, the other members of the Shakhtar Donetsk squad have withdrawn from the Ukrainian national team. Real Madrid’s Andriy Lunin and Oleksandriya’s Yuriy Pankiv also withdrew as they tested positive for the coronavirus. Finally, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Vitaliy Buyalskyi, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Serhiy Bolbat, and Yevhen Konoplyanka have withdrawn due to injury.
In other words, over half of Ukraine’s senior men’s national team withdrew either due to coronavirus or because of injuries. Ukraine were handed a recent boost, however, as recent regulars Marlos and Viktor Kovalenko have joined the national team after being cleared by Shakhtar.
Severely weakened by these departures, the Ukrainians looked shambolic in their embarrassing 7-1 loss to France midweek. Although it was an international friendly, and although Ukraine fielded a relatively unknown and inexperienced side, the result does not bode well for the Ukrainians ahead of their competitive fixture against Germany on Saturday.
Simply put, things do not look good for the Zbirna as they prepare for their match on Saturday. The Ukrainians are coming off their worst loss in their history, they are without the majority of their senior team, and they will be forced to play another youthful team in an important match. Ukrainian national team manager Andriy Shevchenko will pray that his side do not have another shambolic performance on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Germans have had mixed performances in recent years. Throughout the UEFA Nations League, Germany have struggled. During the inaugural 2018/19 competition, the Germans failed to win a single match, where they drew twice and lost twice. Given their poor record, the Germans were initially going to be relegated to the competition’s League B. A series of changes to the competition, however, allowed the Germans to remain within League A.
During the Euro 2020 qualification period, however, die Mannschaft blew past their competition with ease. The Germans won seven of their eight qualification matches, kept a clean sheet in five of these games, and scored 30 goals. They were an unstoppable force.
To date, the Germans have yet to win a Nations League match. Die Mannschaft earned a draw in their opening two fixtures during this year’s competition, and the Germans will be desperate to earn their first victory. Given their desire and grit, and Ukraine’s current issues with the squad, the Germans will be heavy favorites, and die Mannschaft should finally earn their first victory.
Ukraine vs Germany – Players to Watch:
Andriy Yarmolenko #7 – Ukraine (West Ham United)
Andriy Yarmolenko is the only veteran player in Ukraine’s squad for the Zbirna’s upcoming Nations League matches this month. Given Ukraine’s coronavirus and injury crisis, the national team will be relying heavily on “the next Shevchenko”. Yarmolenko has scored numerous goals for his national team, but a common criticism is that he has failed to deliver in big moments. The spotlight will be on him in this fixture. How will he perform?
Serge Gnabry #20 – Germany (Bayern München)
Serge Gnabry has taken the European continent by storm. The Bayern München winger has been a threat in front of goal, where he scored 23 goals in 46 matches across all competitions last season. Most notably, the German scored nine goals in 10 Champions League matches last year, demonstrating that he is clinical finisher. This is further supported by his impressive national team record, where he has scored 13 goals in 13 national team appearances. He will be menacing for the Ukrainian defense.
Ukraine vs Germany – Match Statistics:
- Ukraine and Germany have faced each other on six occasions. The Ukrainians are winless in these encounters, having drawn three and lost three.
- The last match between these two sides came in the Euro 2016 group stage. Germany won 2-0.
- Ukraine currently sit in second place in Group 4 with three points from two games. Germany are in third place with two points from two matches.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Ukraine vs Germany – 1-4
Ukraine vs Germany – Possible Lineups:
Bushchan – Karavayev, Plastun, Mykolenko, Mykhaylichenko – Kovalenko, Malinovskyi – Yarmolenko, Marlos, Tsygankov – Yaremchuk
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Leno – Can, Süle, Rüdiger – Klostermann, Neihaus, Kroos, Gosens – Werner, Draxler – Gnabry
Manager: Joachim Löw
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