Our football match prediction:
All eyes will be on NSK Olimpijs’kyj when Ukraine and Croatia face each other in the Group I derby. Iceland, who face Kosovo in front of home fans in their last group game, are widely expected to secure automatic qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals and it remains to be seen who will make it to the play-offs. Croatia are one point away from booking their place in the play-off game and they are likely to adopt a cautious approach in Monday’s football game. However, seeing that the Croats failed to impress in a 1-1 draw with Finland and considering that Ukraine are a real force to be reckoned with at home, we predict that Andriy Shevchenko’s men will emerge triumphant in the decider in Kiev. A man to watch in the home team will be Borussia Dortmund ace Yarmolenko, who found the net in a 2-0 win over Kosovo on Friday.
Highlighted Player (Artem Kravets):
Artem Kravets is a towering striker born on 3 June 1989 in Dniprodzerzhynsk, and he is a player who has yet to realise his full potential. Coming through the youth ranks at Dynamo Kiev, the forward never quite managed to nail down a regular starting berth in Ukraine’s most famous club, but he has rather searched for form during loan spells with Arsenal Kiev and Stuttgart. The return of 15 goals in 24 league appearances for Dynamo during the 2014/2015 season saw Kravets eventually get a chance to prove his worth in German Bundesliga, but the loan stint with VFB Stuttgart did not go according to plan. Despite the lack of action on club level, the striker was important member of the Ukraine team that secured their place at the Euro 2016 finals, scoring 3 goals in eight qualifiers, and he has since also profited from Yevhen Seleznyov’s decision to move to Russia that cost him a place in the national team.
Highlighted Team (Croatia):
While the national football team of Croatia also played international matches between 1940 and 1944, they only resumed their duties in 1990 after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. Vatreni enjoyed a remarkable start on the international stage, winning the third place on their first ever World Cup appearance in France in 1998, while crashing out in the group stage at the 2002, 2006 and 2014 tournaments. Croatia also reached the quarter-finals at the 1996 and 2008 European Championships, proving they are rightly considered one of Europe’s top sides at the start of the 21st century. Long-serving captain Darijo Srna is their most capped player with over 130 appearances for the national team, whereas former Real Madrid striker Davor Suker is one of their most famous players and top scorer with 45 goals. Other notable footballers to have played for Croatia include Luka Modric, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic. Miroslav Blazevic and Slaven Bilic are the coaches that have been behind team’s biggest success stories up to date.