Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: World Cup qualifier play-off final: Wales vs Ukraine Preview

World Cup qualifier play-off final: Wales vs Ukraine Preview

Bale of Wales and Zinchenko of Ukraine

Wales take on Ukraine with the subsequent winner securing their place at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year! 

Finally! A week of international football with real consequence culminates with this clash in Cardiff on Sunday evening. To ensure you the punter are not misled, allow me to guide you through…

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World Cup qualifier play-off final
Sunday 5 June
Cardiff City Stadium 
18:00

To Win (90 mins) 
Wales 16/10
Draw 17/10
Ukraine 18/10 

To Qualify
Wales 8/10
Ukraine 9/10 

Wales

Teams playing Wales in Wales usually find it a rather difficult place to contest a football match. I don’t expect this to be much different, but the home side will know they need to ensure defensive security if they are to book a ticket to World Football’s showpiece in November. 

Wales come into this game off the back of a 2-1 loss to Poland, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. The Welsh side that took to the field were far from full strength and this game is certainly the priority fixture. 

Gareth Bale will naturally be a lynchpin for his national side on Sunday evening, he scored both goals against Austria early this year and his – albeit often underestimated – ability to hurt opponents from all over the pitch and throughout the game will be cause for concern amongst those from Ukraine. 

I suspect this might become an open end-to-end game, something which might suit the hosts just a touch more? They are a side who look to have possession of the football and get into their attacking third as quickly as possible.

Expect the atmosphere in Cardiff to be electric. Those fans will want to make the experience for their visitors as uncomfortable as possible – at least for the 90 minutes. This Welsh side has the ability and talent to get past Ukraine…but I just can’t shake the feeling that those Ukrainian players are playing for something more. 

Ukraine 

It must be said, Ukraine was unbelievable in their deserved victory over Scotland last time out. To be able to come away from Hampden Park 3-1 victors is certainly no easy feat and so full credit is certainly due. 

They were a measured and patient football side in Scotland, happy to close space and force their hosts to take more risks, all the while just waiting to pounce on any error and launch a devastating counter punch! Yes, at times their final touch would let them down in the final third and, given their propensity to ask questions of their opponents defence, you wouldn’t have been surprised to see them score more…

The atmosphere Ukraine experienced in midweek would have been a taste – and in hindsight – good preparation for Cardiff on Sunday. There is little to separate these two nations and so you get the feeling that it will likely come down to those small margins. 

Georgi Bushchan, the Ukrainian keeper, often flattered to deceive. I don’t think he is an absolute rock in that Ukraine defensive line. Given the threat Wales possess, you would think that the visitors will look to keep play outside of their central areas and opt to rather push the ball into the wide trams. 

It would be remiss of me not to mention or at least acknowledge the situation currently in Ukraine. Of course, this must play a role in the mental preparation of those players and with the greatest amount of respect, I think it provides these players with a real, almost tangible encouragement in truly being able to represent their nation and her people well on the international stage. Emotion and human belief are often so underestimated in the world of sport – but indeed they are our greatest aids. 

Wales Predicted Line-up:

Ward, Davies, Rondon, Ampadu, C Roberts, N Williams, Allen, Ramsey, James, Wilson, Bale. 

Ukraine Predicted Line-up:

Bushchan, Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matviyenko, Stepanenko, Zinchenko, Malinovskyi, Yarmolenko, Tsygankov.

Prediction: Ukraine to Qualify (9/10)

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, this is a contest between two proud football nations with not much to separate them. These two sides each can make life difficult for the other, and simultaneously able to hurt each other in attack. 

I don’t think it will be as sparkly as we might have preferred, and so I think the best bet here is certainly on the Eastern European nation to claim a spot in the grand showpiece at the end of the year. 

At 9/10, I don’t think you need too much more convincing, do you?

Written by Ryan Liberty