MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 19:21:22| >> :600:1846589:1846589:
Mar 28, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Arena L'viv
Moraes (80')
Matviyenko (56'), Sobol (81'), Bushchan (88')
Mykolenko (89')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Pukki (89' pen.)
Kamara (87'), Toivio (90+4')

Preview: Ukraine vs. Finland - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Ukraine and Finland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Ukraine will be looking to build on their impressive point away to France when they host Finland in their second World Cup 2022 qualifying fixture.

The Yellow and Blue held the world champions 1-1 in Paris on Wednesday, while Finland played out a 2-2 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in their opening Group D match.

Match preview

Finland players celebrate Omma Valakari's goal against France on November 11, 2020© Reuters

Understandably given the level of opposition, Ukraine celebrated their draw at the Stade de France as though they had picked up all three points.

Didier Deschamps named arguably his most attacking lineup yet as France boss and was rewarded when Antoine Griezmann fired Les Bleus in front, but Ukraine responded well.

Not only did they keep Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Kingsley Coman and Olivier Giroud quiet from that point on, they equalised through Serhiy Sydorchuk's shot that deflected in off Presnel Kimpembe.

That ended a three-game losing streak for Andriy Shevchenko's side, including back-to-back defeats to conclude their Nations League campaign in the autumn.

It also came just five months on from a 7-1 battering against Deschamps's men at the same ground in a friendly, offering hope that a corner has been turned.

Ukraine head coach Andriy Shevchenko pictured on November 11, 2020© Reuters

After a positive Euro 2020 qualifying campaign that ended with Ukraine finishing above Portugal and unbeaten in their eight games, Shevchenko will be aiming for a place in the World Cup finals.

Finland's target as third seeds in Group D will be to push France and more realistically Ukraine all the way, and they started their campaign positive enough with a point against Bosnia in Helsinki.

That would have felt almost like a defeat, though, as Miroslav Stevanovic struck late on for the visitors to cancel out Teemu Pukki's double after Miralem Pjanic had opened the scoring.

Markku Kanerva's side have lost just one of their last six matches - 3-1 to Wales in a showdown for Nations League promotion in November - and they went one better than Ukraine by winning away at France towards the end of last year, albeit in a friendly.

Finland have lost their previous two encounters with Ukraine ahead of this latest showdown, going down 1-0 and 2-1 in the last World Cup qualifying campaign.

Ukraine World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • D

Ukraine form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Finland World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • D

Finland form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Team News

Ukraine's Roman Yaremchuk pictured on November 14, 2020© Reuters

Ukraine, already without Ihor Kharatin and Viktor Korniienko, have lost Taras Stepanenko, Artem Besedin and Viktor Tsygankov to injury.

The back five formation used by Shevchenko against France clearly paid off, but this is a game Ukraine are expected to win so a back four is more likely.

Ruslan Malinovskiy has three goals and four assists for Atalanta this term and should get the nod in attack, alongside Oleksandr Zubkov and Roman Yaremchuk.

As for Finland, they have no known injury concerns on the back of the draw with Bosnia.

However, Onni Valakari lasted only 45 minutes on Wednesday and may make way from the starting lineup versus Ukraine.

Tim Sparv is among those in contention to return to the XI after starting on the bench last time out.

Ukraine possible starting lineup:
Bushchan; Karavaev, Kryvtsov, Matvienko, Mykolenko; Shaparenko, Sydorchuk, Zinchenko; Malinovskiy, Yaremchuk, Zubkov

Finland possible starting lineup:
Joronen; Toivio, Arajuuri, Raitala; Alho, Sparv, Kamara, Taylor, Hamalainen; Pukki, Pohjanpalo

SM words green background

We say: Ukraine 2-1 Finland

Ukraine picked up a good point in Paris in their opening group game and went unbeaten in their last qualifying campaign.

Finland are coming off the back of a largely positive Nations League campaign, meanwhile, but they are 31 places below their opponents in the FIFA rankings and we expect that to show on Sunday.

Top tip

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France's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring against Ukraine in an international friendly on October 7, 2020
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Wednesday's World Cup Qualifying predictions including France vs. Ukraine
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· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

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