The first ever meeting of Ireland and Ukraine takes place at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday with both nations aiming to bounce back from crushing defeats at the weekend. Given the ongoing heartbreak back in their homeland, a place at this winter’s World Cup would have meant a lot to the Ukrainian players and their people but a Gareth Bale led Wales proved to be too great an obstacle in Sunday’s play-off final, even for this greatly motivated Ukraine side.
While Ireland’s defeat in Armenia on Saturday was far from as consequential, it was a very damaging defeat for manager Stephen Kenny who had publicly stated his ambition to win this group in the Nations League. With Scotland visiting Dublin at the weekend before the Boys in Green head to Poland to play Ukraine again, this could be a pivotal few weeks in Stephen Kenny’s short reign.
Ukraine Double Chance
While questions will be asked of Ukraine’s temperament and mood heading into this Nations League opener following the devastating defeat in Cardiff, you get the feeling that there is extra motivation behind Ukraine each and every time they pull on the Yellow and Blue jersey given events backhome. The Football Association of Ireland have played a blinder by handing out a few thousand tickets to Ukraine’s displaced to Ireland during the war so the visitors are sure to be backed by a vocal away support.
While Ukraine missed out on a place at Qatar 2022 with that narrow 1-0 loss in Wales, Oleksandr Petrakov’s side created more than enough opportunities in the game to at least force extra time while they played Scotland off the park during their recent 3-1 success in Glasgow.
While some Premier League fans may only view the likes of Zinchenko and Yarmolenko as average players, they are always to the fore of any big performances from this Ukraine outfit and in truth, are probably far more technically gifted than any player in the current Irish ranks.
Having never won a game in the Nations League and now facing a game against the highest-ranked side in the group, this could prove to be a difficult night at the office for Ireland.
Oleksandr Zinchenko to Score or Assist
Perhaps Ukraine’s most technically astute star, Manchester City full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko is used in an entirely different way by his National Team boss Oleksandr Petrakov than he is by Pep Guardiola.
An attacking left-full-back for his club, Zinchenko is something of a playmaker in the centre of the park for Ukraine and his qualities in the engine room were seen to great effect in the win over Scotland recently.
Zinchenko registered the fourth assist of his international career and having notched up four Premier League assists this season when limited to just 15 appearances, it’s clear Ireland will have to clamp down on his involvement where possible.
Ireland struggled massively in the centre of the park against Armenia and that is a huge area for concern ahead of Wednesday’s match. While Ireland have improved massively on the ball during Kenny’s time in charge, there’s every chance they’ll be out-possessed by a technically stronger side and if that does prove to be the case then expect Zinchenko to be at the heart of most Ukraine attacks.
The Premier League winner has scored 8 times for his country in 50 caps and with Ireland struggling in midfield, this looks a game ready-made for Zinchenko.
Artem Dovbyk 1+ Shots on Target
Having failed to fire during Sunday’s defeat to Wales, Roman Yaremchuk may find his place in the starting XI under threat in Dublin with 24-year-old striker Artem Dovbyk likely to be pushing hard for inclusion in Oleksandr Petrakov’s starting panel.
Despite having an astonishing 24 shots on goal at the Cardiff City Stadium, only 9 of those were on target. While Wales keeper’ Wayne Hennessy had the game of his life, Petrakov is certain to be disappointed with the efficiency of his centre-forward which may bring about change at the Aviva on Wednesday.
Artem Dovbyk boasts an impressive return of 3 goals in just 8 caps for Ukraine with the Cherkasy native scoring a famous last-gasp winner in extra-time against Sweden at last summer’s European Championships.
With this being a busy period in the Nation’s League, expect Dovbyk to be hungry to nail down more regular involvement for the remainder of the campaign.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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Ireland v Ukraine Predicted Line-ups
Ireland predicted XI (3-4-3) : Kelleher; Duffy, Collins, Egan; Coleman, Cullen, Hendrick, McClean; Ogbene, Keane, Robinson
Ukraine predicted XI (4-3-3): Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Sobol; Zinchenko, Sydorchuk, Shaparenko; Yarmolenko, Dovbyk, Mudryk
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How to watch Ireland v Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League
📅 When is Ireland v Ukraine? / Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 19:45
🏟 Where is Ireland v Ukraine? / Aviva Stadium (Dublin)
📺 What TV channel is Ireland v Ukraine on? / Premier Sports 2
🟨 …And who is the referee for Ireland v Ukraine? / Filip Glova 🇸🇰