Albania vs Ukraine, Sunday, June 3, 15:00 BST/16:00 CEST Camille Fournier Stadium, Évian-les-Bains, France
The week of June 3 will mark the final period of international friendlies as several countries throughout the world prepare for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Though Albania and Ukraine have missed out on the opportunity to compete in the tournament this summer, this match will allow them to prepare for the UEFA League of Nations this fall.
Albania has had a poor showing in its recent friendlies, losing to both Norway and Kosovo. The Eagles have failed to score in their last two fixtures while conceding four goals in the process. Christian Panucci recently assumed the managerial position for the Eagles, and it is likely he is still experimenting with his players and lineups.
Ukraine also had a lacklustre performance during this international friendly period, where the Yellow Blues drew 0-0 with Morocco. In a rather drab affair, neither side looked comfortable in scoring. By fulltime, it was surely a match to forget.
Now, with their final international friendly before the summer break, both sides will seek to muster a positive result. While they may not be competing in the World Cup, the players are cognizant of the Summer 2018 Transfer Window, and this may be their final opportunity to impress any suitable buyers or their future employers.
Albania vs Ukraine– Players to Watch:
Elseid Hysaj #4 – Albania (SSC Napoli)
The Albanian had quite the season in Italy, where he was considered one of the best players in Serie A during the 2017/18 campaign. The defender helped his side challenge for the Serie A title, and although they narrowly lost out to Juventus, Napoli will certainly be a force to be reckoned with next season. Unfortunately, Hysaj has not had the same fortune with his national team. Having missed out on the FIFA 2018 World Cup, the Albanians will have to look forward to the UEFA League of Nations competition this fall. After poor matches against Norway and Kosovo, Hysaj will hope his side can earn a positive result in this friendly.
Andriy Lunin #21 – Ukraine (Zorya Luhansk)
Following their failure to qualify for the World Cup this summer, Shevchenko will have to look ahead to the UEFA League of Nations and the Euro 2020 competitions. While the manager has made several changes to his defence and midfield, opting to select younger and quicker players, he will still have to decide over his starting goalkeeper. The preferred choice has been Andriy Pyatov, who is 33 years of age, while backup Denys Boyko is 30. Should the Ukrainian national team proceed with either of these options, they may serve as a liability in the upcoming European competitions and qualifiers are given their recent inconsistencies. Lunin, however, provides another option. Zorya Luhansk finished fourth in the Ukrainian Premier Liha this season, and with an impressive season, he may be the future of the Yellow-Blues. Perhaps Shevchenko will opt for this young player as a means of preparing for the future.
Albania vs Ukraine Match Stats
- Albania and Ukraine have faced one another on five occasions (one friendly and four World Cup qualifiers). Ukraine leads the series with four victories and one draw.
- Their most recent encounter was in June 2016, where Ukraine won 3-1.
- Albania finished third in its FIFA World Cup qualification group, behind Spain and Italy. Only Spain qualified for this year’s competition.
- Ukraine also finished third in its group, behind Iceland and Croatia. Coincidently, both Iceland and Croatia were paired again in the FIFA World Cup group stage.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Albania vs Ukraine – 1-2
Albania vs Ukraine – Possible Lineups
Berisha – Hysaj, Ajeti, Mavraj, Veseli – Ndoj, Qaka, Ramadani, Roshi – Guri, Cikalleshi
Manager: Christian Panucci
Lunin – Matviyenko, Shavanov, Ordets, Butko – Stepanenko, Zinchenko – Yarmolenko, Kovalenko, Konoplyanka – Besyedin
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Mark Temnycky is a Ukrainian-American who earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in June 2017. He is pursuing a career in international relations and foreign policy. Follow Mark on Twitter @MTem33