Scotland and Ukraine are finally set to lock horns as the last UEFA representative at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have yet to be decided.
Emotional Graeme Souness admits he wouldn’t want to play against Ukraine and wants them to BEAT his beloved Scotland in tomorrow’s World Cup play-off https://t.co/fb1z14PzyL
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 31, 2022
Both nations have been made to wait in their quest to reach the winter tournament this year after the unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia earlier this year, and the clash at Hampden Park in Glasgow has major implications for both parties involved.
What’s at stake
For manager Steve Clarke and Scotland, England’s noisy neighbor to the north has a chance to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1998 in France. There, the Scots were largely a disappointment after finishing bottom of Group A comprised of Brazil, Norway, and Morocco while managing just one point in group play to show for their efforts.
Moreover, Scotland has never advanced past the group stage in any of the eight World Cup appearances they have managed across their national history despite players the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law, and Graeme Souness. To reach the final this time around would be another achievement worth noting, but Scotland still has a long way to go if they are to reach the level of England or even Wales.
As for Ukraine, the story of the Blue and Yellow is one of hope as the Eastern European nation remains under siege by Russian forces. But its people, and its footballers, have no intentions of giving up or accepting favors, either.
National icon Andriy Shevchenko recently stated that he would have been against any automatic passage for Ukraine given the geopolitical situation that continues to rage inside the nation’s borders, insisting that his country’s footballing destiny this cycle must be allowed to play out on the pitch.
But for a nation that has only reached the World Cup on one occasion (2006), there is so much more riding on the line than a nation’s pride tomorrow.
Form guide & How they got here
Despite being in the World Cup playoff bracket, Scotland gave a very good account of themselves during qualifying irrespective of the fact that they finished runner-up in Group F behind potential dark horse Denmark, while the Scots posted a very credible 7-2-1 record across group play.
Group F was tricky, however, and Scotland opened play with successive draws against Austria (2-2) and Israel (1-1), and only managed a single win in their opening four outings after thrashing the Faroe Islands 4-0 before losing to group winners Denmark 2-0. But from there on out, Scotland was a side in form as they won six matches on the spin to guarantee the runner-up spot, while recent draws against Poland and Austria again show they have been committed to their approach.
For a side that only mustered two wins during their qualifying campaign, there are many that may feel that Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko and the rest of his compatriots are underdogs.
That said, however, Ukraine managed to go undefeated in their qualifying program including a pair of 1-1 draws against superpower France but hardly ran the table against smaller sides the likes of Finland, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Despite their credible team game and solid defensive numbers, Ukraine continues to struggle for goals that don’t come from a player named Andriy Yarmolenko but are still a threat to Scotland in all areas of the pitch.
This article was edited by Will Jackson.