Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Nations League clash between Ukraine and Armenia, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
After a vastly changed team recovered from the heartbreak of the playoffs to win their first UEFA Nations League appointment in the middle of the week, Ukraine meet outsiders Armenia in Lodz on Saturday afternoon.
Although the troubled nation’s World Cup dreams are over, they are level on points with their visitors and Scotland at the top of the early Group 1 League B table and will now host a first game in their new adopted homeland.
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After enduring the pain of losing to Wales in the World Cup play-offs last Sunday, the Ukraine coach may be smart Oleksandr Petrakov decided to rotate his squad for a midweek trip to Dublin.
With a fundamentally revised starting eleven, including several young stars, the blue and yellow saw replacements Victor ZygankovThe rather random strike seals all three points against the Republic of Ireland; successfully start the latest season of the Nations League.
The Dynamo Kyiv winger’s free kick escaped the Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher just after the break and puts Ukraine on track to regain League A status next year.
Controversially demoted from the top division in 2020 after a COVID-19 outbreak forced the former manager Andriy ShevchenkoThe squad to pull out of a game against Switzerland – with the points later being awarded to the Swiss – will see strong intentions to right a perceived injustice.
Most of Ukraine’s squad has been starved of regular football in recent months with the domestic league suspended since Russia invaded, but wins over Scotland and Ireland in their last three competitive games – and such a close tie against Wales – have shown the talent a team that reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
Days after beating the pointless Irish, one of their most notable victories in years, Armenia expected another Celtic challenge on Wednesday as they took on Scotland at Hampden Park.
However, their first away game of the new Nations League season ended in defeat after conceding two goals in the first half Steve Clarkewho was eliminated in their last game against Ukraine in the playoffs.
Nonetheless, three points from Armenia’s first two games in League B is a success for the head coach Joaquin Caparrosa cunning veteran who was there as a force in Europe at the start of Seville’s rise to prominence.
The 66-year-old was also responsible as Armenia secured promotion from League C in late 2020 when they finished ahead of Estonia, Georgia and North Macedonia in their group.
With their first win in a competitive match since beating Romania in last year’s World Cup qualifiers, a side that beat Norway 9-0 in March will now be looking to overcome their setback in Glasgow if they face Group 1 favorites on Saturday.
Form of Ukraine Nations League:
Ukraine form (all competitions):
Form of Armenia Nations League:
Armenian form (all competitions):
Oleksandr Petrakov faces the fourth of five competitive games played in quick succession and is ready to shake up his starting XI again after making ten changes on Wednesday.
Viktor Tsygankov could be rewarded for a positive performance and scored the winner against Ireland while the selection was wide open Edward Sobol may return as Everton left-back Vitaly Mykolenko is resting.
Forward in the meantime Roman Yaremchuk will likely be recovered Artem Dovbykwith captain and leading active scorer Andriy Yarmolenko (108 caps, 45 goals) also come back into play. However young Mykhaylo Mudryk has held its place so far due to some eye-catching shows this summer.
However, Armenia has a smaller pool of creative players to draw from – especially since Henrikh Mkhitaryanwho retired internationally last year – and are likely to field a squad similar to the one that lost at Hampden.
Forward of the Columbus Crew Lucas Zelarayan and backup defender Hayk Ishkhanyan are injured Sargis Adamyan was set to start up front in the former’s absence, while Colombian-born couple Jordy Monroy and Wbeymar Angulo are among several men hoping for a promotion from the bank.
Ukraine possible starting line-up:
lunin; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Sobol; Shaparenko, Sydorchuk, Malinovsky; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Mudryk
Armenia possible starting line-up:
Yurchenko; Hambardzumyan, Haroyan, Mkoyan, Mkrtchyan, A. Hovhannisyan; Bayramian, Grigorian; Spertsyan, Barseghyan; Adamian
We say: Ukraine 3:0 Armenia
Despite home tensions and the bitter disappointment of missing Qatar 2022, Ukraine have performed admirably over the past 14 days and are at home in League B.
Armenia, on the other hand, are new to this level of Nations League competition and are not particularly productive – having drawn a hole in four of their last seven games. So your weekend trip to Poland should end pointlessly.
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Our expert Tipster partners at Sporita.com predict over 1.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they predict for this game and for more of their football best tips.Above 1.5: data