After five enthralling rounds of UEFA Nations League Group B1 action, it all comes down to Ukraine against Scotland to decide who will dine at the top table of UNL football in 2024/25.
Ukraine aren’t in the driving seat despite a 5-0 victory over Armenia last time out, with the war-ridden country needing nothing less than a win to complete a footballing fairytale story and achieve promotion, but with this game taking place in Poland, any home advantage is seemingly lost.
Ukraine have been in fairly good form since their return to competitive action in June (W4, D1, L2), though they will be acutely aware that both defeats came against UK nations.
One was a soul-destroying World Cup qualification defeat against Wales (1-0), and the other a 3-0 humbling against Scotland under a week ago. Yet as the designated home side, Ukraine may be quietly confident of obtaining that promotion chasing win having won five of their seven UNL ‘home’ games.
For Scotland the mission is a little simpler on paper as they must avoid defeat to secure their spot in League A for the next UNL edition. Having started their journey in League C in the inaugural edition, two promotions in three campaigns would mark a meteoric rise for Scotland, but having already lost a mammoth WCQ clash against Ukraine this year (3-1), they will be all too aware that their promotion isn’t sealed yet.
Three successive UNL wins paints a pretty picture for Steve Clarke’s men, and perhaps backs up Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor’s claim that his side are getting better at keeping their cool in high-pressure games.
While only a draw is needed for Scotland to secure promotion here, it’s something they have never seen on their UNL travels (W3, L4), and with each of those defeats coming against sides ranked better than them.
Ukraine v Scotland – Predicted XI
Ukraine’s possible starting lineup: Andriy Lunin; Illia Zabarnyi, Sergey Krivtsov, Mykola Matvienko; Oleksandr Karavaev, Taras Stepanenko, Danylo Ignatenko, Vitaliy Mykolenko; Andriy Yarmolenko, Artem Dovbyk, Mykhailo Mudryk
Scotland’s possible starting lineup: Craig Gordon; Greg Taylor, Scott McKenna, Jack Hendry, Aaron Hickey; Callum McGregor, Kenny McLean; Ryan Christie, John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong; Che Adams