Germany will be aiming to get their first victory of the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League when they face off against Ukraine on Saturday.

Germany will travel to Kyiv this weekend as they gear up to take on Ukraine at The Olympic National Sports Complex in their third fixture of the UEFA Nations League Group A4.

Ukraine kicked off their Nations League campaign with a 2-1 victory over Switzerland at home. However, following that victory, Andriy Shevchenko’s side have suffered two heavy defeats – a 4-0 loss to Spain last month in the Nations League, which was followed by a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of France in a friendly earlier this week.

Germany, on the other hand, were held to 1-1 draws by both Spain and Switzerland in their first two fixtures of the competition last month. Joachim Low’s men then played out an entertaining 3-3 draw against Turkey in a friendly encounter on Wednesday and will be aiming to end their three-game winless streak on Saturday.

Ukraine and Germany are second and third, respectively, in Group A4 standings currently. And ahead of their meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Ukraine

Andriy Shevchenko has to make do without a host of his experienced players. (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Andriy Shevchenko has to make do without a host of his experienced players. (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine have been rocked with injuries and positive coronavirus test results due to which a host of their regular starters will be unavailable for selection. The situation is so dire that Shevchenko was forced to name 45-year-old assistant coach Oleksandr Shovkovskiy on the bench against France.

Goalkeeper Mykita Shevchenko has been called up to join the squad, while Viktor Kovalenko, Romero Marlos and Valery Bondar will link up with the roster. Mykola Matvienko and Junior Moraes have had to withdraw from the squad after their tests came out positive.

Last game saw five players make their debuts and Shevchenko might once again be forced to field a relatively inexperienced side due to the roster issues. Heorhiy Bushchan, who was one of the debutants against France, ought to continue in goal for the Yellow and Blues.

Oleksandr Karavayev ought to get the nod at right-back, while Eduard Sobol should feature as the left-back after the duo weren’t part of the starting XI last time out. Ihor Plastun should partner Vitaliy Mykolenko at the heart of the backline. Serhiy Sydorchuk and Ihor Kharatin are expected to occupy the pivot positions in the middle and provide a shield to the hosts’ defence.

The creative onus will fall on the shoulders of Ruslan Malinovskyi, who should slot in as the No. 10 for Ukraine. Andriy Yarmolenko will provide a threat from the right while Viktor Tshyankov, who has three goals for Dynamo Kyiv this season, should get the nod on the left. Roman Yaremchuk, who has scored five in 15 appearances for the national team, will likely lead the line.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bushchan; Karavayev, Plastun, Mykolenko, Sobol; Kharatin, Sydorchuk; Yarmolenko, Malinovskyi, Thsyankov; Yaremchuk

Germany

Germany will welcome back the likes of Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry into the squad along with Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann, all of whom were exempted from participating in the friendly. Along with them, Toni Kroos and Timo Werner are also part of the squad.

Mahmoud Dahoud, Nico Schulz, Benjamin Henrichs, Niklas Stark and Nadiem Amiri, all of whom were part of the squad for the friendly against Turkey, have been released. With the team searching for their first win of the Nations League, expect Low to field a strong starting XI in Kyiv.

Manuel Neuer, back into the squad, should walk back into the starting XI, slotting between the goalposts. The Bayern goalkeeper will be shielded by a three-man backline of Emre Can, Antonio Rudiger and Niklas Sule. The returning Klostermann should slot in as the right-sided wing-back, with Robin Gosens starting on the left.

Kimmich will hold the fort in the centre of the park for the visitors. He is likely to be partnered by Kroos, with Florian Neuhaus and Julian Brandt set to make way for the duo. Kai Havertz, who was brilliant in the game against Turkey, ought to start again in the attacking midfield slot.

Werner, who’s back in contention for the game, should replace Luca Waldschmidt in the starting XI, with Serge Gnabry pairing up with him at the top.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Neuer; Can, Sule, Rudiger; Klostermann, Kroos, Kimmich, Gosens; Havertz; Gnabry, Werner

Key Stats

  • Germany have not lost any of their six matches against Ukraine till date. Die Mannschaft have picked up three wins, with the remaining three ending in stalemates.
  • The last meeting between the two nations came in June 2016, in the UEFA Euro 2016. Germany prevailed 2-0, courtesy goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
  • There has been just one game where no goals have been scored between the two countries. The Germans have kept three clean sheets in total against Ukraine.
  • Germany are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions (W4 D4). However, they are without a victory in their last three matches.
  • After a run of 12 games without a defeat, Ukraine have lost their last two fixtures.

Player to Watch

Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz has been brilliant in 2020 (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Kai Havertz has been brilliant in 2020. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Bongarts/Getty Images)

2020 has been Kai Havertz’s year. The German international has been in brilliant form since the turn of the year, putting in some brilliant performances for Bayer Leverkusen in the 2019/20 campaign, which earned him a big-money transfer to Chelsea.

While he is yet to hit top gear at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has already made his mark, with three goals and an assist in five games. Havertz wasn’t involved in last month’s Nations League fixtures but has made quite the case for himself ahead of the Ukraine game, starring with a delightful couple of assists against Turkey.

The former Bayer Leverkusen man could end up being key in unlocking the Ukrainian team that could look to play with a deep defensive block after their recent results.

Prediction

Ukraine 1-3 Germany

Ukraine come into the game on the back of a couple of torrid results. The fact that some of their most experienced players in Andriy Pyatov, Taras Stepanenko and Yehven Konoplyanka, among others, are missing will make the fixture even harder for them.

Germany, on the other hand, will be looking to end their three-game winless run. There were a number of positives for them from the Turkey game and with a number of key players back for the Saturday’s clash, they should be able to ease to a straightforward win in Kyiv.

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