The UEFA Nations League returns on Wednesday evening when the top two sides in Group B1 meet in Glasgow where Scotland host Ukraine in a match which will see someone controlling their destiny over the next week.
Ukraine go into the match a point ahead of Scotland but should the home side come out on top in this one then they will know they will be in line for promotion with a win in their next game and a draw in the reverse meeting between these two.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on ITV4 with the build-up at Hampden Park beginning at 7pm and the kick off coming along at 7.45pm.
I think it is fair to say we need to give Scotland some credit. They have won two of their three matches in this Nations League group and that was no mean effort when you consider that they had suffered the blow of being knocked out of World Cup qualifying just a few days prior to those games. To respond and get back up to put in an effort good enough to win two out of three at the end of a long season certainly merits some respect.
The Scots get their chance for revenge here because it was Ukraine who knocked them out of World Cup contention so you would imagine the home side will be bang up for this one, especially when you consider that they could need the bonus of the guaranteed play-off spot that would come from winning this group not to mention the promotion should they come out on top. If they are to win this Scotland need to defend a whole lot better than they did in that World Cup qualifier.
I guess if you are giving credit to the Scots then even more credit has to go to Ukraine because they suffered even greater heartache when it came to World Cup qualifying. They lost out in the play-off final in a match they didn’t deserve to lose but rebounded to win two and draw the other of their opening three matches in the UEFA Nations League. If that wasn’t enough they did it with everything that is going on back in their homeland.
The interesting thing for Ukraine here will be whether they can put on a similar performance to the one they gave in that World Cup qualifier. If they can then they are likely to have more than enough for Scotland. Ukraine know that a draw here will be more than enough as long as they win the match prior to the final game against Scotland in which they would only need a draw to return to the top flight after their recent relegation.
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Scotland have a bit of a defensive issue going into this match. Andy Robertson, Liam Cooper and John Souttar missed the squad because of injury and since then Grant Hanley has withdrawn so Aaron Hickie and Greg Taylor could feature.
Ukraine will be without Arsenal utility player Oleksandr Zinchecko who picked up a calf injury in training last week. Eduard Sobol won’t be able to replace him as he is also out as is Mykola Sharapenko.
The goal line for this match is as low as two but I’m a little surprised at that because Scotland matches have been fairly high scoring in recent times. They have massive defensive issues heading into this match so you would imagine that will only lead to the likelihood of more goals here. Scotland are going to have to play a little more on the front foot to protect their defence and Ukraine are more than happy to get the ball forward and go at their opponents.
It was 3-1 when these two met in that World Cup play-off semi-final earlier in the year and while that one was clouded with the emotion of it being the first game since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I don’t think this one will be treated as meaningless because this match is likely to determine who wins the group and gets the benefits that come with it. I think we might see more goal action than is expected so I like the over on the 2 goal line safe in the knowledge that if there are only two goals we lose nothing.
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