Olympic Stadium, Kiev
Monday 12th October 2015, 1845 GMT
Premier League duo David de Gea and Cesc F bregas could start for Spain in their final qualifying game against Ukraine, with Vicente del Bosque’s men having already sealed qualification for the 2016 European Championship in France next summer.
Ukraine face an uphill battle to qualify automatically for the 2016 EUROs, needing to better Slovakia’s result against Luxembourg when they take on European powerhouse Spain on Monday at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev — the venue which saw Vicente Del Bosque’s men win their second straight European Championship in 2012.
Spain are in the luxurious position of having already qualified for next summer’s tournament in France, and Vicente Del Bosque could rest several big names against Ukraine, potentially giving Athletic Bilbao central defender Xabier Etxeita and Villarreal right-back Mario their national team d buts.
Team News and Tactics
Ukraine manager Mykhaylo Fomenko will be without midfielder Serhiy Sydorchuk and centre-back Yevhen Khacheridi for the crunch game on Monday, as the pair is suspended after picking up a yellow card each against FYR Macedonia in their previous game.
However, there is also good news for Fomenko in that midfielders Taras Stepanenko and Denys Garmash are expected to be fit enough to return to the starting line-up. Ukraine could go with Dynamo Kyiv striker Artem Kravets in place of Yevhen Seleznyov, after the former came on as a second-half substitute against Macedonia and sealed the game with a goal close to full time.
Fomenko is likely to use the same 4-3-3 formation as he did in the previous game, with Kravets being flanked by Sevilla winger Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko. Yarmolenko in particular has been in fine form this season, scoring 8 goals and picking up 7 assists in 13 appearances in all competitions, and will be a big threat to Spain’s left-back from his position on the right flank.
Ukraine’s inverted wingers in Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko will be looking to drift in from the left and right respectively, and Spain’s midfield will have to work hard off the ball to prevent them from finding pockets of space in the final third between midfield and defence.
Ukraine will also have to be careful of the threat Spain pose, with Chelsea FC midfielder Cesc F bregas and Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco expected to get the nod in midfield amongst others. Both have extremely good vision and ability to thread a ball through to the striker — likely to be Valencia youngster Paco AlcA?cer after his brace against Luxembourg — and Fomenko’s men will have to do their best to remain compact and deny the two time and space on the ball.
Possible starting line-up (4-3-3): Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Rotan, Garmash, Stepanenko; Yarmolenko, Kravets, Konoplyanka
Vicente del Bosque could ring in the changes for his side’s final qualifying game given that they have already secured qualification, and La Liga duo Etxeita (centre-back) and Mario (right-back) could make their national team bows. Manchester United keeper David de Gea is likely to replace Iker Casillas in goal, while Chelsea FC defender C sar Azpilicueta could get the nod at left-back.
Manchester City superstar David Silva and Juventus striker A?lvaro Morata have been ruled out following injuries picked up in the previous game against Luxembourg, with Sergio Ramos, Daniel Carvajal and Andr s Iniesta having been ruled out prior to the 4-0 victory on Friday evening.
Cesc F bregas broke former FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi’s assists record for Spain against Luxembourg, and is set to win a milestone 100th cap against Ukraine on Monday. Real Madrid trickster Isco is also likely to start in midfield, and the Spaniards will once again try and keep possession and break Ukraine down through the middle of the park.
Del Bosque will continue to deploy his favoured 4-3-3 formation, but it remains to be seen how much importance he places in the last fixture, which is essentially a dead rubber for Spain. If he sees the game as an opportunity to give his entire ‘second team’ a start, Celta Vigo attacker Nolito could start from the left, with Manchester United star Juan Mata starting from the opposite flank.
Both have been in good form this season, with the former particularly impressing with his performances in La Liga and consequently attracting interest from some of Europe’s top clubs. Valencia striker Paco AlcA?cer will likely be given the opportunity to showcase his talent with a spot in the first-team after his two-goal heroics against Luxembourg.
Possible starting line-up (4-3-3): De Gea; Mario, Etxeita, Bartra, Azpilicueta; Thiago, F bregas, Isco; Mata, AlcA?cer, Nolito
- Cesc F bregas is set to make his 100th cap for Spain on Monday, after making his d but in 2006 against Ivory Coast
- Ukraine’s last loss in qualification came against Spain in March this year, with Fomenko’s men winning three and drawing one of their matches following the defeat.
- Spain are on a remarkable run in their qualifying campaign, winning seven consecutive games without conceding a goal after their loss to Slovakia last year
- Ukraine are level on points with Slovakia, but are placed below them due to a poorer head-to-head, meaning they will have to better Slovakia’s result to quality automatically
- Spain could give national team d buts to two players — Etxeita and Mario — in Kiev on Monday
Player to watch
Cesc F bregas
The midfielder has not had a good season with Chelsea FC so far, but was in fine touch against Luxembourg on Friday. On the occasion of his 100th appearance for the national team, F bregas will want to make a key contribution to mark the milestone.
With Ukraine realistically needing to win, the game could open up and the former FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC man thrives when given time and space on the ball. With mobile forwards in Nolito, Paco AlcA?cer and potentially Pedro playing ahead of him, there is every chance of him grabbing an assist or two.
Ukraine 1 – 2 Spain
Even though Del Bosque will put out a much-changed line-up, Ukraine’s urgency to win the game could play right into Spain’s hands. Although they have not scored too many goals in the qualification campaign, they have usually faced defences that have opted to sit back and congest the midfield. Ukraine will have to be ambitious however, and Spain could capitalize.
Blast from the past