Ukraine vs. England - WC Qualifier Match Preview

Just by looking at goals, England seems to have had a perfect WC qualifying round so far. They scored 25 goals and conceded only 3 giving them the lead in the qualification group H. However, four wins and three draws look less impressive. Against Montenegro and the Ukraine, their strongest competitors, they won only one point each. Hence, they risk even ending up on rank three missing the play-offs. Especially the match against Ukraine on foreign ground looks crucial. Both countries are in the top ten of national teams with England only being marginal better. So here is Goalimpact's view on the teams.

England

NameGoalimpactAge
Goalkeeper
Joe Hart135,426,4
Defender
John Terry178,932,7
Ashley Cole170,932,7
Joleon Lescott144,831,0
Glen Johnson134,929,0
Chris Smalling128,923,8
Kyle Walker124,823,3
Phil Jagielka121,231,0
Leighton Baines119,928,7
Gary Cahill105,327,7
Midfielder
Frank Lampard161,435,2
Steven Gerrard151,333,3
Michael Carrick143,432,1
Ashley Young124,528,1
Jack Wilshere121,721,7
Tom Cleverley114,424,1
James Milner112,327,7
Forward
Wayne Rooney168,627,9
Theo Walcott144,224,5
Daniel Sturridge130,224,0
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain127,320,0
Danny Welbeck119,922,8
Jermain Defoe119,630,9
Rickie Lambert118,931,5

England has a strong team, but seems to depend still on some key old players. From all players below 30, only Wayne Rooney is truly world-class (>150), although Theo Walcott is close to join. Given how the Goalimpact currently works, the values of players beyond the age of 30 are likely to be biased upwards. So change of generation is due.

This selection is not bad. In my database there are no other English world-class players. Yet, some alternative choices of young talent according to Goalimpact would have been Kieran Gibbs (128.5) and Phil Jones (120.5).

Ukraine

NameGoalimpactAge
Goalkeeper
Andriy Pyatov148,329,2
Defender
Oleksandr Kucher145,430,9
Yaroslav Rakitskiy143,024,1
Vyacheslav Shevchuk135,334,3
Taras Mikhalik133,429,8
Evgen Khacheridi126,326,1
Artem Fedetskiy102,028,4
Evgen Selin97,425,3
Bogdan Butko84,822,6
Midfielder
Edmar135,133,2
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk133,134,4
Oleg Gusev128,330,4
Denys Garmash124,523,4
Ruslan Rotan124,431,8
Taras Stepanenko110,724,1
Forward
Andriy Yarmolenko134,623,9
Evgen Seleznev131,328,1
Marko Devic128,029,8
Roman Zozulya123,623,8
Evgen Konoplyanka120,123,9
Roman Bezus98,622,9

Ukraine's team looks weaker at the first glance. However, this is mainly caused by few players that seem to not yet to have a Goalimpact you'd expect for a player at a World Cup. If we just look at the first eleven, this is a quite strong team. Especially the defense including the goalkeeper Pyatov looks impressive, but also midfield and attack is well staffed. Alternative selections by Goalimpact would have been Aleksandr Aliev (130.8) and Oleksiy Gay (128.3).

Summary

Two strong teams will meet, both according to Goalimpact among the best ten teams of the world. The individual class on England's first eleven is higher but some key players have past their peak performance already. Given the home advantage, Ukraine is the slight favorite in this match.

GoalimpactBetfair
Ukraine37,4%34,5%
x30,2%30,1%
England32,3%35,5%

As a draw would be sufficient for England, odds are still that England will qualify as number one and will avoid the play-offs. However, they may lose their pole position to Montenegro temporarily.


Update 9. Sep. 3pm

If the predicted lineups of WhoScored are correct, then the odds are more in favor of Ukraine then previouly assumed. This gives Ukraine a 41.9% chance of winning. Especially the English center back looks weak, as a commentor noted.

Update 10. Sep. 8:19p.m.

The actual lineups are as follows.

Ukraine

PlayerGoalimpactAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Andriy Pyatov148.329.2Shakhtar Donetsk22320742
Vyacheslav Shevchuk135.334.3Shakhtar Donetsk1079265
Oleksandr Kucher145.430.9Shakhtar Donetsk16814908
Evgen Khacheridi126.326.1Dinamo Kiev12110548
Artem Fedetskiy102.028.4Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk15012451
Taras Stepanenko110.724.1Shakhtar Donetsk1229794
Oleg Gusev128.330.4Dinamo Kiev24217986
Edmar135.133.2Metalist Kharkov21118318
Roman Zozulya123.623.8Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk1095892
Andriy Yarmolenko134.623.9Dinamo Kiev18814922
Evgen Konoplyanka120.123.9Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk13910378
Bench
Maksim Koval116.520.7Dinamo Kiev908178
Rustam Khudzhamov93.730.9FK Illichivets867998
Yaroslav Rakitskiy143.024.1Shakhtar Donetsk14212858
Vitaliy Mandzyuk116.527.6Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk13511501
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk133.134.4Zenit St. Petersburg33125657
Mikola Morozyuk99.225.6Metalurh Donetsk1339724
Dmytro Khomchenovsky82.823.4Zorya Lugansk674797
Dmytro Grechyshkin102.821.9Shakhtar Donetsk443118
Denis Dedechko90.126.2Vorskla Poltava463239
Evgen Seleznev131.328.1Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk18511903
Roman Bezus98.622.9Dinamo Kiev1298212
Marko Devic128.029.8Metalist Kharkov19412863


England

PlayerGoalimpactAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Joe Hart135.426.4Manchester City28426493
Kyle Walker124.823.3Tottenham Hotspur18416388
Phil Jagielka121.231.0Everton FC38134170
Ashley Cole170.932.7Chelsea FC60253886
Gary Cahill105.327.7Chelsea FC29827069
Jack Wilshere121.721.7Arsenal FC1178546
James Milner112.327.7Manchester City46233842
Frank Lampard161.435.2Chelsea FC82971478
Steven Gerrard151.333.3Liverpool FC68457354
Theo Walcott144.224.5Arsenal FC31219309
Rickie Lambert118.931.5Southampton FC21018266
Bench
John Ruddy98.826.9Norwich City13912847
Ben Foster105.030.4West Bromwich Albion22020429
Chris Smalling128.923.8Manchester United1118486
Steven Caulker100.421.7Cardiff City14913568
Leighton Baines119.928.7Everton FC38533788
Ashley Young124.528.1Manchester United37030300
Andros Townsend94.822.1Tottenham Hotspur1228358
Tom Cleverley114.324.1Manchester United1229232
Michael Carrick143.432.1Manchester United51943143
Ross Barkley94.819.7Everton FC513293
Raheem Sterling105.018.7Liverpool FC563701
Jermain Defoe119.630.9Tottenham Hotspur49632979