Ukraine vs. Greece Preview and Pick – World Cup Qualifying

Ukraine vs. Greece – Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine 1 PM EST Wednesday November 18, 2009
by Jason Green at

Match Odds: Ukraine is the home favorite in this match posted at 1.80 with Greece as the away underdog posted at 4.50 with a draw at 3.30.
Over/Under: 2.5 goals

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Well, this is it baby, as after all the group qualifying matches and first leg of this playoff match up it all comes down to this match. Winner takes all in this match, as the winner will be playing in the World Cup and the loser will be watching it from home. These two teams played to a 0-0 draw in Athens last week so this match is it for these 2 teams. Ukraine has not lost in their last 6 games and they are at home, but you can never count out Greece, which is a country that has a penchant for big upsets. Ukraine scored 20 goals in group play, but where stymied in Athens this last week. They also have 2 shutouts in their last 2 matches at home.

Greece had a few chances to score at home last week, but did not take advantage and now they will have to score in Ukraine, which is never easy to do. The Greeks have not played in the World Cup since 1994 in the United States, but they did win the European Championships in 2004. It is interesting that it was Ukraine who was in Greece’s group in the 2006 World Cup qualifying group and thwarted their attempt to play in the biggest soccer tournament in the world. There may be a little revenge in mind from the Greeks in this match. The Greeks will have to play a solid match on defense in order to keep the dynamic attack of Ukraine from finding the back of the net.

Ukraine made it to the semifinals of the last World Cup in Germany and it would be a major upset if they did not qualify for this World Cup. They made it out of a tough group, finishing 2nd ahead of Belarus and Croatia, and nothing short of a home win will be a major disappointment.

Ukraine Recent Form:
11/14/2009 Greece 0 Ukraine 0 (WC Qualifying Playoff)
10/14/2009 Andorra 0 Ukraine 6 (WC Qualifying)
10/10/2009 Ukraine 1 England (WC Qualifying)
9/9/2009 Belarus 0 Ukraine 0 (WC Qualifying)
9/5/2009 Ukraine 5 Andorra 0 (WC Qualifying)

Greece Recent Form:
11/14/2009 Greece 0 Ukraine 0 (WC Qualifying Playoff)
10/14/2009 Greece 2 Luxembourg 1 (WC Qualifying)
10/10/2009 Greece 5 Latvia 0 (WC Qualifying)
9/9/2009 Moldova 1 Greece 1 (WC Qualifying)
9/5/2009 Switzerland 2 Greece 0 (WC Qualifying)

Ukrainian MF Taras Mykhalyk is doubtful with this match due to a knee injury and Grigoriy Yarmash is out due to an illness.

Greek DF Avraam Papadopoulos passed a training session recently, but he still may not be match fit. Giourkas Seitaridis, Vasilis Torosidis, and GK Kostas Chalkias will all not play in this match die to various injuries.

Greece has had problems against the bigger teams and against those teams they tend to play a defensive match. They will do the same in this match, as they will be more than happy for another scoreless draw and then to take their chances in a shootout.

The Dynamo Kyiv striker duo of Andriy Shevchenko and Artem Milevskiy are the main scorers for Ukraine and they will have to be marked all match by Greece. Shevchenko has revitalized his career as of late and he is always dangerous on long runs and around the goal.

Thoefanis Gekas is the leading goal scorer for the Greek squad and he will face a tough Ukraine defense in this match. If he can break through and score the first goal look for all the Greek players to play on the defensive end of the field.

Giorgos Karagounis is the best midfielder for Greece and he could not crack the defense of Ukraine in the match in Athens. If Greece controls the midfield and takes advantage of their chances to score they have a great chance to win this match.

Greece will play back on D and stuff the midfield, so the attacking Ukrainians will have to be careful of the counterattack since they will be pushing many players forward.

The Greek defense will have to be on their game all match, as Ukraine will attack from the get-go and try to get an early goal.

Jason’s Pick: Both teams have a solid defense, but Ukraine has the better offense and they are at home. Look for Andriy Shevchenko to come up big in this game whether it is by scoring or taking Greek defenders off other Ukraine players. Ukraine will win this match and with the win they will book their ticket to South Africa next summer. I see Ukraine winning by a score of 1-0.