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Monday, August 10, 2009

England vs Ukraine WC Qualifying 2010: Preview, Live Score

(This entry was originally published on Monday, March 30th, 2009)

Following Saturday’s 4-0 rout over Slovakia in an international friendly at the Wembley Stadium, England national football team is now preparing for their high profile 2010 world cup qualifier against Ukraine on 1 April at the same ground in front of home supporters. England is currently leading the point table of group 6 of world cup qualifying round with 12 points thanks to 4 victories in 4 games so far in the competition. England has been in sparkling from so far in the 2010 world cup qualifying competition. In fact, Fabio Capello’s team holds a 7-point lead atop the Group 6 table. Ukraine is also undefeated in Group 6 as they sit in the third place of the standing with 7 points to their credit, though Ukraine played a match less.

Match: England vs Ukraine; UEFA Group Six, 2010 World Cup Qualification

Date: 1 April 2009, Wednesday

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England

Kick off: 20:00 BST (British Standard Time)

Live TV: ITV 1 TV Channel

England will go into the match full of confidence on their 4-0 victory over Slovakia in the recent friendly match. England players showed excellent prospect against Slovakia and it seems that Ukraine is going to face a tough challenge from Capello’s men on Wednesday at the Wembley stadium. England started their world cup qualifying mission with an unimpressive 2-0 victory over Andorra, but just four days later, England routed Croatia 4-1 on the road thanks to an excellent hat-trick from Theo Walcott. Next came a 5-1 mauling over Kazakhstan at home, before clinching a 3-1 victory away at Belarus.

Ukraine got off to a good start to their 2010 world cup qualifying mission with a 1-0 victory over Belarus at home. In the second match, Ukraine defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 on the road. In their very recent qualifying match, Ukraine was held to a goalless draw with Croatia. Both Ukraine and Croatia have 7 points each to their credit, but Ukraine is left in the third place on goal difference, but Ukraine played a game less. Ukrainek is still undefeated in the tournament, but their undefeated record is expected to be tested hardly when they will face England in front of English supporters in a packed stadium.

Squad Strength: Forward/ Striker

England’s prime striker Wayne Rooney has been in scintillating form of recent that he has one again proved by putting two goals in the Slovakia match. The Manchester United striker has now become one of the biggest stars of English football and I think that Ukraine defenders are going to face some tough challenges from Rooney. However, striking line up of England has suffered a double blow as Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole are going to miss the Ukraine match due to injury. Heskey, who scored a goal against Slovakia, picked up an injury during the victory against Slovakia. Carlton Cole limped off during England’s friendly against Slovakia as he injured his groin, just 15 minutes after coming from bench as a substitute. Though they player expressed the groin injury was not as severe as had been expected initially, it is less likely Capello would rush Cole into the England squad fort the upcoming world cup qualifier against Ukraine.

However, Darren Bent and Peter Crouch are now ready to make it to the starting line up. Still, the injuries of Heskey and Cole have depleted the depth of England’s forward line up. Crouch came on as a substitute against Slovakia after getting over his injury, but was limped off after staying on the field for 34 minutes. However, the Portsmouth striker has been in excellent form of recent and if he is fit enough, Crouch is likely to feature along with Rooney up front against Ukraine.

Ukraine is also missing Dynamo Kyiv striker Artem Milevsky who is currently out with injury. Captain Andriy Shevchenko will lead Ukraine’s forward line up, and English midfielder and Shevchenko’s former club mate at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, has already warned his English teammates about a possible threat posed by Andriy Shevchenko, who joined AC Milan earlier this season following a 2-year unsuccessful stint with Chelsea. Shevchenko has already become a football legend in Ukraine, holding the record appearance and record goals for his country. Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin, who is now on loan at Hertha Berlin, is expected to start against England pairing with Shevchenko.

Squad Strength: Midfield

Despite having a balanced striking line up, England’s main strength lies in their midfield where you can find the creative players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham. Capello has two quality holding midfielders in Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry. Though England is missing talented winger Theo Walcott as he is not yet full fit, England squad still includes some quality wingers. In the right wing, Capello can choose between Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips, while the England manager can deploy Gerrard in the left flank as he did against Slovakia in the friendly match. Capello could also play Middlesbrough midfielder Stewart Downing in the left side of the midfield. However, it is less likely that England will features both Lampaprd and Gerrard together in the heart of the midfield, given the pair’s poor performance in the past. So, I think, Barry and Lampard should feature in the centre of the midfield with Lennon in the right and Gerrard in the left wing. Manchester City midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips has been in poor form of recent and sat out during the Slovakia match due to injury. So, it is less likely he would be in the starting line up. Even, I am doubtful if Beckham is picked up in the starting line up against Ukraine, but I must say the former England captain showed moments of magic against Slovakia in the international friendly. However, Beckham will definitely be in the reserve bench and would play a part of the match as a substitute.

To be honest, I do not think Ukraine’s midfield is as strong as the England midfield. No doubt, they have a very balanced midfield line up. In the middle of the midfield, Ukraine has an experienced defensive midfielder in Anatoliy Tymoschuk and an attacking minded midfielder Serhiy Nazarenko. Yevgeny Levchenko might have made his international debut a bit late; the 31-year-old has already showed what he can do when playing at his top. Oleksandr Aliyev earned his national team call up just last year and at 24, is considered to be one of brightest prospects of Ukraine. Ukraine has some young talents like Denys Golaydo and Serhiy Kravchenko in their midfield, while they also have experienced midfielders like Oleh Husyev and Ruslan Rotan. Overall, Ukraine midfield is pretty much strong, but it does not match the England midfielder when it comes to strength and depth.

Squad Strength: Defense

England defense is also very strong and features two of today’s best defenders: John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. Though Ferdinand was injured out for the recent international friendly against Slovakia, the Manchester United defender is expected to be available for the match against Ukraine. However, experienced centre back Ledley King has pulled out of Ukraine showdown due to knee injury. Even if Ferdinand can not play in the starting line up, Capello has a quality option in Matthew Upson. Ashley Cole will be in the left side of the defense, while Glen Johnson is expected to be in the right flank of the England defense. Capello has a quality alternative for the left wing back in Everton midfielder Joleon Lescott. Uncapped Leighton Baines is less likely to feature in the starting line up, but I would not be wondered if Capello features Baines in the substitute bench. Another Everton midfielder Phil Jagielka is also less likely to make it to the first eleven.

Ukraine back line features a number of talented and skilled defenders. Taras Mikhalik has already cemented a regular place at the heart of the Ukraine defense. In the central defense, there is someone like Dmytro Chyhrynsky who has represented Ukraine regularly during Euro 2008 qualifying tournament after recovering from injury. However, he is facing touch challenge from Andriy Rusol and Oleksandr Kucher. Rusol has lots of experience with him and he could be in the starting line up against England. In the left back, Vyacheslav Shevchuk is almost certain, while Hryhoriy Yarmash is expected to start in the right flank of Ukraine defense. Coach Mykhaylichenko will face a tough task of choose between Chyhrynsky and Rusol. I think, Chyhrynsky seems to be slightly ahead in the race.

Squad Strength: Goalkeeper

David James is expected to wear England’s no. 1 shirt, but the Portsmouth goalkeeper is facing a tough challenge from Manchester United’s stand-in goalkeeper Ben Foster who helped Manchester United to win the Carling Cup. Ukraine coach Oleksiy Mykhaylichenko is more likely to feature Andriy Pyatov in the starting line up. In fact, Pyatov played all the three world cup qualifying matches Ukraine played so far and I would really be surprised if experienced Oleksandr Shovkovsky is given the keeping gloves from the start against England.

Here, I am giving the probable squads of both England and Ukraine:

England First Eleven (Probable)

David James, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch.

Ukraine First Eleven (probable)

Andriy Pyatov, Taras Mikhalik, Vyacheslav Shevchuk, Hrygory Yarmash, Dmytro Chyhrynsky, Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Maksym Kalynychenko, Serhiy Nazarenko, Yevhen Levchenko, Andriy Shevchenko, Andriy Voronin.

Online Live Score and Updates

Here, I am giving some live score and update websites from where you can get the live updates of the match:

Live Score

Goalzz

Footiescorez

ESPN Soccernet

Goal.com

Goonersguide

England is clearly favorite against Ukraine, given their home advantage and recent form in evidence. However, moments of magic from Shevchenko could turn England’s world upside down. So, England can not afford to sit back and just relax ahead of such an exciting tie. England failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 and thus, they are now under pressure to qualify for the 2010 world cup final in an emphatic way. England has so far maintained their ominous form, but still, England can not take Ukraine lightly in what could be a disaster for the home side. Ukraine might play a bit defensively and would mostly rely on counterattack because avoiding a defeat should be the first priority for the visiting side, ensuring a point from the match. Three points thanks to a goal from a counterattack would just be considered as bonus for the visitors. Anyway, I think, Ukraine could give some stiff competition to the home team and it could be an exciting affair between two favorites of the group six in the 2010 world cup qualification.

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