Ukraine vs Slovakia, Friday, November 10, 20:00 GMT/21:00 CET Arena Lviv – Lviv, Ukraine
As the first legs of the FIFA 2018, World Cup playoffs start this week, neither Ukraine nor Slovakia will participate in this competition. Ukraine finished third in Group I, behind group winners Iceland and second place Croatia, thus knocking them out of contention.
Meanwhile, Slovakia finished in second place behind group winners England and overcame Scotland and Slovenia for the vital second place spot. Unfortunately for the repre, due to other second-place results in the other eight qualification groups, Slovakia did not advance to the playoffs and was eliminated from the competition.
This friendly match, however, should not be taken lightly. Both national teams fall within the best thirty teams in the world, and it is expected Ukraine and Slovakia will use this match to showcase their talent to the rest of the world. With no need to prepare for next year’s football competition, both managers may also choose to experiment with their formations and tactics during the second half of the match.
Ukraine vs Slovakia – Players to Watch:
Denis Harmash #19 – Ukraine (Dynamo Kyiv)
Having been absent for the majority of Ukraine’s FIFA 2018 World Cup qualification campaign, it seems Shevchenko had a change of heart for the midfielder. Harmash played a vital role in Ukraine’s final qualifiers, yet he, along with the rest of the national team, was unable to earn a decisive victory on Match Day 10, where zbirna lost to Croatia and was eliminated from the competition.With an ageing Rotan, it is expected that Harmash will play as the second defensive midfielder in the Ukrainian national team. While he provides a new sense of depth into the senior squad, he can also be a defensive liability. Like Khacheridi, Harmash is known for his hot-headed personality. If Ukraine has any hopes of gaining a victory in this friendly, it will require Harmash to maintain his composure throughout the match.
Marek Hamšík #17 – Slovakia (SSC Napoli)
The Slovakian midfielder is well known within the European football community. Having won the Coppa Italia in 2011-12 and 2013-14 with Napoli, he has been a dominant force in midfield for his Italian club. Moreover, he has played a vital role in this season’s Champions League Group Stage. Hamšík also has a history with Ukrainian opposition at a club level. Napoli faced Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Europa League 2014-15 semi-finals, Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League 2016-17 Group Stage, and Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2017-18 Champions League Group Stage. Given his familiarity with Ukrainian players, it is expected Hamšík will fare well in this match.
Ukraine vs Slovakia – Match Stats
- Both nations featured in the EURO 2016 competition in France last summer. Ukraine failed to exit the Group Stage while Slovakia was eliminated in the Round of 16.
- Ukraine and Slovakia were paired in the same EURO 2016 qualification group. Slovakia won the head to head record with one victory and one draw.
- Outside of official competitions, Ukraine leads the head to head record with one win, two draws, and zero losses.
- Ukraine is undefeated in all competitions at the Arena Lviv, having won six matches and drawn twice.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Ukraine vs Slovakia 2-2
Ukraine vs Slovakia – Possible Lineups
Pyatov – Matviyenko, Rakitskiy, Khacheridi, Butko – Stepanenko, Harmash – Yarmolenko, Marlos, Konoplyanka – Besyedin
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Dúbravka – Pekarík, Škrtel, Ďurica, Hubočan – Mak, Kuka, Lobotka, Hamšík, Weiss – Nemec
Manager: Jan Kozák
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