Ukraine vs Turkey Saturday, September 2 19:45 BST/20:45 CET Metalist Stadium – Kharkiv, Ukraine
As the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers return this September, Ukraine finds itself in an awkward predicament. Following Match Day 6, only two points separate zbirna from first and second placed Croatia and Iceland, while Ukraine is level on point with Turkey. Hence, with four more matches to go, European Qualification Group I will feature some of the more entertaining match ups in September. Match Day 7 and 8 against Turkey and Iceland will be crucial, as if the Eastern European state has any hope of progressing to its first international competition under Andriy Shevchenko’s tenure, it will have to collect maximum points from these two matches.
Ukraine will host the first day of training camp on August 29 in Kharkiv, in preparation for its first match against Turkey on September 02. Ukraine will then fly to Reykjavik, where they face Iceland on September 5.
Following zbirna’s victory against Finland, Shevchenko has made some changes in this round’s squad list. The first notable omission saw Yevhen Seleznyov (Karabükspor), Oleksandr Kucher (Kayserispor), and Artem Fedetskiy (Karpaty Lviv) omitted from the squad. This, however, should not come as a surprise. With a talented pool of up and coming players, it is likely that Shevchenko has shied away from the ageing veterans for younger and faster talent.
Mykyta Shevchenko and Maksym Malyshev of Shakhtar Donetsk, and Artem Dovbyk of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk were also not recalled.
Shevchenko has made some notable additions. The first is Artem Kravets. During the 2016-17 season, the striker fell out of favour at Dynamo Kyiv and was sent on loan to Spanish club Granada. Kravets has since returned to Dynamo for the 2017-18 season, and the Ukrainian will hope to regain his form.
The second notable addition is Maksym Koval of Dynamo Kyiv. Under the managerial spell of Serhiy Rebrov, Koval was sent on loan to Hoverla Uzhhorod during the 2014-15 season and Danish club Odense Boldklub during the 2015-16 season. He then seemed to disappear under Rebrov’s tenure during the 2016-17 season. Now, with the retirement of Ukrainian and Dynamo Kyiv goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, and with the appointment of Alyaksandr Khatskevich as Dynamo’s new manager, it seems that Koval will reignite his career.
Perhaps the largest shock, however, is the return of Yevhen Khacheridi, who fell out of favour when Shevchenko began his managerial tenure. It seems the hot-headed centre back has regained his form, and with the omission of veteran Kucher, it is expected that he will be paired with Rakitskiy as the other central defender.
Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, who was not selected for the trip to Finland this past June, has also been recalled. Vladlen Yurchenko of Bayer 04 Leverkusen has received his first call-up to the national team.
Following their loss against Iceland on Match Day 3, Turkey has taken maximum points in both fixtures against Kosovo and its home match against Finland. As in any competition, Turkey has demonstrated that it is essential to collect victories against the group’s weaker opponents. Its record against the stronger sides, however, has not been as successful, having earned draws against Ukraine and Croatia, and it registered a loss to Iceland.
Finally, Mircea Lucescu was recently appointed as the new manager of the Turkish national team. Lucescu formerly managed Shakhtar Donetsk from 2004-16, having won the Ukrainian Premier Liha eight times, Ukrainian Cup six times, the Ukrainian Super Cup seven times, and the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League) in 2008-09. Given his familiarity with many of Ukraine’s national stars, it is expected that Ukraine will face a fierce Turkish opposition in Kharkiv on Match Day 7. Since there has also been a managerial shake up for Turkey, it is also difficult to predict the formation that Lucescu will select for this match, in addition to his starting 11.
Ukraine vs Turkey – Squad List
Zbirna’s squad list for the games against Turkey and Iceland is as followed:
Goalkeepers: Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk); Maksym Koval (Dynamo Kyiv); Andriy Lunin (Zorya Luhansk)
Defenders: Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Bohdan Butko, Ivan Ordets, Serhiy Kryvtsov (all Shakhtar); Yevhen Khacheridi, Mykola Morozyuk (both Dynamo); Eduard Sobol (loan, Slavia Prague); Mykola Matviyenko (loan, Vorskla Poltava)
Midfielders: Andriy Yarmolenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Denys Harmash, Viktor Tsyhankov, Volodymyr Shepelyev (all Dynamo); Taras Stepanenko, Viktor Kovalenko (both Shakhtar); Ruslan Rotan (Slavia); Yevhen Konoplyanka (Schalke 04); Yevhen Shakhov (PAOK); Ruslan Malinovskyi (Genk); Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City); Vladlen Yurchenko (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)
Forwards: Artem Kravets (Dynamo); Artem Besedin (Dynamo)
Ukraine vs Turkey – Players to Watch
Ukraine – Artem Besedin #18
Following the retirement of Andriy Shevchenko from the national team, Ukraine has struggled to find a prolific striker. Artem Kravets and Yevhen Seleznyov seemed to have resolved this problem during the EURO 2016 qualification period. During this time, Seleznyov scored once during the qualification period, and once in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Kravets scored 3 goals in 10 matches and has scored 3 goals in 6 matches during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualification period. Between the two of them, however, neither player has been able to score for Ukraine, especially in crucial matches. These statistics are not good enough for a striker position, and Shevchenko will need to turn to younger talent in to fill this void. Besedin came off the bench and provided Ukraine with the winning goal against Finland on Match Day 6. It is expected he will have a similar impact in the match against Turkey.
Turkey – Ozan Tufan #6
During the first leg of this fixture, Ukraine was cruising 0-2 in Konya after 30 minutes, and it seemed as if the visitors would add to their Talley. Tufan’s goal in the 45+1 minute got his Turkish side back into the game, and it changed the dynamics of the match at half time. Following the break, a rejuvenated Turkey sought an equaliser and kept Ukraine on the back foot, where they eventually conceded a penalty in the 80 minute. Turkey then scored the subsequent penalty, and the match ended 2-2. Tufan had similar antics during Turkey’s 1-4 routing over Kosovo, and it is expected that he will try to replicate his dominant display in Kharkiv when Turkey faces Ukraine on Match Day 7.
Turkey Ukraine – Match Stats
- The first leg ended 2-2 in Konya. Ukraine, who had been dominant for the majority of the game, conceded a penalty in the 81st minute, allowing Turkey to equalise from the spot
- Andriy Yarmolenko and Artem Kravets have both netted 3 times for Ukraine in 6 matches, with both scoring in the first leg against Turkey in October 2016
- Turkey’s leading goal scorers Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Ozan Tufan also scored in this match
- Ukraine have held eight international competitions at Metalist Stadium, having won 3, drawn 1, and lost 4
Prediction: Ukraine vs Turkey 1-1
Ukraine vs Turkey – Possible Lineups
Pyatov; Matviyenko, Rakitskiy, Khacheridi, Butko; Stepanenko, Rotan; Yarmolenko, Kovalenko, Konoplyanka; Kravets
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Volkan Babacan- Sener – Söyüncü – Mehmet Topal – Caner Erkin- Cengiz Ünder – Hakan Calhanoglu – Emre Belozoglu-Arda Turan – Okay Yokuslu – Burak Yilmaz
Manager: Mircea Lucescu
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