It is a huge night for two nations on Wednesday evening when Scotland and Ukraine meet at Hampden Park in the semi-final of the World Cup play-off, with the winners progressing to the final in Cardiff on Sunday.
These two sides have waited for three months to be able to play this match after the terrible events taking place in Ukraine recently and the extended build-up only ensures we will get an emotional evening in Glasgow.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels with the build-up beginning at 7pm ahead of a kick off at 7.45pm.
This is a big night for Scotland. It was always going to be a big night for Scotland because they have a chance of going to their first World Cup in 24 years and having had a taste of tournament football once again last year, they will be eager to join another party. It got even bigger when the draw for the finals was made that confirms the winner of this section of the play-offs will go into a group with bitter rivals England.
Scotland need to put that and the emotion around this match to one side. The good thing for them is they are at home because outside of Scotland there won’t be many people who aren’t wanting Ukraine to win given all that is happening back in their country. Scotland are decent at home though and showed at the Euros that they can be competitive. They will definitely need their big players to turn up and be counted here.
I don’t think there are many folk outside of Scotland and Wales that won’t want to see Ukraine at the World Cup at the end of the year given all that country is currently putting up with and has had to put up over recent months. This is obviously going to be an emotional occasion for Ukraine with it being the first time their players will have been on the same pitch since the atrocities began but they have to manage that throughout the 90 minutes.
Ukraine were good enough to qualify for the Euros last year and only came unstuck against a rampant England side but things haven’t been quite as fluent for them since that tournament. They went through their qualifying group undefeated but they drew six of their eight matches and could only find the net 11 times. They have tightened up at the back since the departure of Andriy Shevchenko but that has come at the detriment to their attacking play.
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Scotland will be without defender Kieran Tierney and midfielder Ryan Jack for this contest. Nathan Patterson is another who will be missing for Steve Clarke’s men. Luton midfielder Allan Campbell will be looking to make his debut.
Ukraine have finally got their squad together as one. They have been touring Europe in the last few weeks to get their home based players some game time as they haven’t had any since December. Andriy Lunin has arrived with the squad after being on the bench for Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.
There is so much riding on this game that it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the contest takes a while to spark into life. I think there very well could be a sense of both teams not wanting to take early risks in this match rather than go out and grasp the opportunity that is in front of them so I can see any goals that do come along, if indeed any do, not doing so until the second half of the game, especially with the emotion and nerves surrounding it.
I think it is fair to say that both teams are set up to contain sides rather than be expansive and high scoring so there is every chance that the two could cancel themselves out regardless of everything that is on the game here. Ukraine only found the net 11 times in eight qualifying matches while Scotland found the net 17 times in 10, four of which came in one outing against Faroe Islands. They only conceded seven goals in that campaign though so neither concede too often so with it all put into the pot, a scoreless first period shouldn’t be ruled out.
Back Half time score: 0-0 for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with Betfair