Saudi Arabia vs Ukraine, Friday, March 23 19:00 GMT/20:00 CET Estadio Municipal de Marbella, Marbella, Spain
With only three months remaining until the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, countries throughout the world will begin to make their preparations for the world’s most prestigious competition.
Ukraine was unfortunate not to qualify for the competition, having been drawn in a difficult group with Iceland, Croatia and Turkey. Hence, with nothing to lose, Ukraine’s Manager Andriy Shevchenko may choose to experiment with his line up to allow for more playing time for his more youthful players.
Saudi Arabia, however, will have other plans. Having qualified for the World Cup through the AFC, the Green Falcons will seeks this as an opportunity to try and perfect their tactics in preparation for the summer competition. Saudi Arabia have been drawn in Group A with Russia, Egypt and Uruguay. Moreover, it is likely Saudi Arabia scheduled this match against Ukraine as a mock-trial, as perhaps the Saudis see similarities between the Ukrainian and Russian national football teams in terms of style of play and its players.
Saudi Arabia vs Ukraine – Players to Watch:
Mohammad Al-Sahlawi #10 – Saudi Arabia (Al-Nassr)
Having scored 28 goals in 34 international appearances, Al-Sahlawi is currently Saudi Arabia’s most deadly force. The striker, who can also operate in midfield, will surely hope to add to his goal scoring tally as the Green Falcons prepare for this year’s FIFA World Cup. Should he maintain this remarkable form, it is possible Saudi Arabia could emerge from the competition’s group stage.
Viktor Tsygankov #15 – Ukraine (Dynamo Kyiv)
The young midfielder has had an impressive season at Dynamo Kyiv thus far, having scored 12 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions. Tsygankov particularly impressed for Dynamo during the Europa League Round of 32 and the Round of 16, and his recent performances have warranted an international call-up. With Ukraine’s main starter Andriy Yarmolenko sidelined due to injury, it is possible Shevchenko will award Tsygankov with his first international start.
Saudi Arabia vs Ukraine Match Stats
- Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko is still recovering from injury and is unlikely to feature in this match.
- Mohammad Al-Sahlawi was Saudi Arabia’s top goal scored during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification period, where he scored 16 goals.
- Ukraine and Saudi Arabia have only previously met once, during the FIFA 2006 World Cup. Ukraine won the match 4-0.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Saudi Arabia vs Ukraine – 1-2
Saudi Arabia vs Ukraine – Possible Lineups
Abdullah – Shahrani, Osama Hasawi, Omar Hawasi, Harbi – Otayf, Shehri – Al-Jassim, Al-Sahlawi, Al-Muwallad – Assiri
Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi
Pyatov – Matviyenko, Rakitskiy, Khacheridi, Butko – Stepanenko, Rotan – Tsyhankov, Marlos, 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