Ukraine v England: Match Preview

By Online Editorial

Fabio Capello

England have already qualified but have an 100% qualifying record to play for, whilst a win for Ukraine would see them leapfrog Croatia and become strong favourites to reach the play-offs.

All the talk of this match in England should have been about Fabio Capello’s troops attempting to emulate Germany’s class of ’82 and the current Dutch team in being the only sides ever to qualify for a World Cup with a 100% record. Instead the match has made the headlines for being the first broadcast England clash not to be shown on UK TV.

You can watch it streamed over the internet but if you haven’t subscribed, you’ll have to pay the princely sum of £9.99.

With eight wins from eight matches and having scored six times the number of goals they have conceded, England certainly have momentum. But are they motivated?

The chance to finish the campaign with a perfect record should drive them . There are no “dead rubbers” when you play under Fabio Capello as complacency leads to your name being left off team-sheets in the future.

I wouldn’t expect wholesale changes to the England 11 with Robert Green keeping his place ahead of David James and Rio Ferdinand being picked ahead of Matthew Upson, though I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Peter Crouch in for Emile Heskey, who has fallen down the pecking order at Aston Villa.

The Ukrainians are not lacking motivation either. A win against England would see them leapfrog Croatia (who have played an extra match) into second spot and put them in pole position to be in the draw for the play-offs, especially as their remaining fixture, an away trip to Andorra, is a more attractive prospect than Croatia’s voyage to that most enigmatic of venues, Kazakhstan. Vitaliy Mandyzuk misses the match through suspension whilst Dmytro Chygrynskiy of Barcelona and Andriy Rusol sit this one out due to injury.

I suspect that on the day both sides will leave the pitch disappointed, having taken a share of the spoils so the draw at 3.75 is my initial selection. England’s tilt at perfection will fall just short whilst the Ukraine will be praying for Kazakhstan to do them a favour on Wednesday. As it happens, I suspect they may well do, so take the 2.88 on Ukraine finishing second in the group.

England only once picked up more than two bookings in a match (the 2-1 win over Ukraine at Wembley) in qualifying so far and the same is true of Alexei Mikhailichenko’ side, who picked up three in their home draw against Croatia. There’s no reason why the floodgates should open in this one and I’d be surprised if there were more than four so a lay of 9 points and above on the bookings market (less than five yellows assuming there are no reds) at 2.4 would be my second recommendation.

On the goalscorer markets, I’d stay well clear of the England players as it’s anyone’s guess what sort of changes Capello will make throughout the match which will remove any sort of value on the backing front. But it’s a different story with the Ukraine, who will be going flat out for the win and won’t be resting anyone.

Andryi Shevchenko is the team’s leading scorer in qualifying with five goals, including his effort against England back in April. The former AC Milan and Chelsea man might be worth a dabble at around 3.2 to score at anytime.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited


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