Our prediction for this Nations League match:
Slovakia will be aiming to make amends for back-to-back defeats to Ukraine and Czech Republic when they welcome Andriy Shevchenko’s troops at their City Arena Trnava on Friday evening. The Slovaks are still in the race for second position in Group 1, but this has to go down as a must-win situation for them. Stefan Tarkovic’s men have no other choice but to go all guns blazing at Ukraine and we predict that they are going to get their revenge on Andriy Shevchenko’s charges for a 1-0 loss in L’viv. Ukraine will almost certainly finish the process in top position in the standings, meaning that a loss would not hurt them too much. The hosts want this win more than the visitors, which is the main reason why we are tempted to put our money on Marek Hamsik and Co.
Highlighted Player (Martin Skrtel):
Martin Skrtel is without a doubt one of Slovakia’s most famous footballers and with over 80 appearances for the national team, he is also one of their most capped players. Following a bright start to his career at Trencin, the powerful defender secured a move to Zenit, where he would go on to spend next three and a half years.
But, it was the £6.5 million transfer to Liverpool in January 2008 that put him on the map and ensured he would be remembered by football fans everywhere. Known for his uncompromising style of play that often got him into trouble, Skrtel enjoyed some success at Anfield, and even though major titles eluded him and his teammates, the centre-back scored in the 2011/2012 League Cup final to help the Reds lift the coveted trophy.
The Slovakian defender has so far made over 240 Premier League appearances for one of England’s most famous clubs and he has also been a real rock at the back for the Slovakian national team. Skrtel has missed very few competitive matches for his country after making his debut back in 2004, and he started four fixtures at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Highlighted Team (Ukraine):
After the country had gained independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine played their first international match in 1992, and they have come a long way since. Zbirna have only once played at the World Cup finals so far, and they did really well to reach the quarter-finals in 2006, while they co-hosted the Euro 2012 with Poland, albeit failing to get past the group stage.
The generation that secured qualification for the Euro 2016 finals in France is arguably the most talented ever, with Yevhen Konoplyanka, Andriy Yarmolenko, Ruslan Rotan and Roman Zozulya the leading players, but plenty more talent present in Mikhail Fomenko’s squad.
Similar to the trademark style of former Soviet teams, Ukraine bases their tactics on rock-solid defence and swift counter-attacks, but it has to be noted that Zbirna possess a lot more technical skills and attacking potential than most other former Russian republics. Everything suggests that the most successful period in the history of the national team is ahead of them.