Wales vs Ukraine World Cup Prediction, Odds, Picks
- Ukraine will hope to use the momentum generated by their victory over Scotland
- Wales beat Austria in the play-off semi-finals in March and have home advantage
- Ukraine were impressive on Wednesday and could pull off another minor upset here
Wales vs Ukraine Odds
Wales vs Ukraine Pick
Back Ukraine to win and qualify for the World Cup (+150)
Oleksandr Petrakov’s side were excellent in the semi-finals and have the right balance to win in Cardiff.
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Wales vs Ukraine Predictions
Ukraine One Game Away From What Would Be Brilliant Feat
Wednesday night at Hampden Park was an emotional one for Ukraine – and not just for the players and staff. A 3-1 victory over Scotland secured the country’s progression to the play-off final, leaving Ukraine one match away from a place at the 2022 World Cup. Given everything that has happened back home since Russia’s invasion in February, that would be a remarkable achievement. Ukraine will have the support of neutrals everywhere on Sunday.
It was hard not to be moved by the scenes after the final whistle in Glasgow. Ukraine’s players saluted their fans for several minutes. They were applauded by large sections of the home crowd, just moments after Scotland’s own World Cup dreams were ended.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, who recently celebrated Manchester City’s Premier League title triumph wrapped in a Ukraine flag, had broken down in tears in his pre-game press conference. The manager, Oleksandr Petrakov, was more forthright after the game, calling out the many Russian abuses taking place in his homeland.
Yet while it was undoubtedly an emotional evening for Ukraine, it would do the team a disservice to overlook the quality of their performance. Put simply, Petrakov’s side outclassed Scotland. They were superior in every department and played some excellent soccer throughout. There were fears in the run-up to the play-offs that Ukraine could be rusty given their domestic-based players have not played competitively since December; instead, they looked sharp and fresh.
Ukraine’s display should not really have come as a surprise. They reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 last summer, before finishing second to France in the group stage of the qualification process. And despite some well-intention but ultimately flawed suggestions to simply hand Ukraine a place in Qatar, they are potentially 90 minutes away from qualifying on merit.
Wales Are Also Desperate to Qualify for the World Cup
The war gives Ukraine an additional motivation to qualify for the World Cup, but no one should underestimate Wales’ desire to make it. This Gareth Bale-led generation has reached two European Championships in a row, but their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup means they have now gone more than 60 years without participating in the biggest tournament of all. Most Welsh people alive today have no memories of their country’s solitary appearance in 1998.
Wales edged out Czech Republic in the group stage, finishing one point clear to secure second spot after losing only one of their eight qualifiers. A play-off semi-final against Austria was negotiated in impressive fashion, as Rob Page’s men won 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium. The atmosphere on that March night was magnificent, and we can expect more of the same this weekend.
Wales warmed up for this momentous match with a 2-1 defeat by Poland in the Nations League on Wednesday. We should not really read too much into that result, since Page was without the likes of Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and other key players. Everyone who is fit will return for Sunday’s showdown.
A minor cause of concern for Wales is their recent defensive record: they have now gone five games without keeping a clean sheet, having previously excelled at denying their opponents goals.
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Ukraine Can Use Wednesday’s Momentum to Win Again
There is little doubt that the best individual on the pitch on Sunday will be Bale. The forward has not played much soccer this season: he started only four games (three of which were in August) as Madrid won the La Liga title, and featured for just seven minutes in the club’s victorious Champions League campaign. But he continues to deliver for the national team, as his brilliant brace against Austria in the semi-finals demonstrated.
It would be unfair to call Wales a one-man team, but without Bale they are a different proposition entirely. Ukraine, by contrast, has a better balance. Zinchenko, Roman Yaremchuk, Andriy Yarmolenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi are their most important players, but they are not reliant on any of them as much as Wales are with Bale.
Ukraine have already shown this week that they can hold their nerve at opposition stadiums. They were, in the best possible way, cold and clinical at Hampden Park. It might have been an emotional occasion, but you would not have known that simply by watching Ukraine’s performance over 90 minutes. There is no reason why they cannot repeat the trick on Sunday: back Petrakov’s charges to beat Wales and qualify for the World Cup.
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How to Watch Wales vs Ukraine
|Wales vs Ukraine Information|
|Teams||Wales vs Ukraine|
|Location||Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales|
|Time||Sunday, 5 June 2022, 12.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN2|