Euro 2012 Preview: Ukraine

Euro 2012 Preview: Ukraine
Oleg Blokhin
2012 is first appearance
As hosts
11 (Feb 2007)
132 (Sep 1993)
66/1 (Blue Square)

June 11th – Sweden – (1945 BST, Kiev, BBC)
June 15th – France (1700 BST, Donetsk, ITV)
June 19th – England (1945 BST, Donetsk, ITV)

Ukraine’s preparation for this tournament has been turbulent to say the least, they’ve gone through three coaches in Alexei Mikhailchenko, Myron Markevych and Yuriy Kalitvintsev before turning to the man who took them to the last eight of their only previous major tournament – the World Cup in 2006.
Results wise there’s not really much cause for optimism with Sweden and France possessing friendly wins in the Ukraine.

The Ukrainians have also lost to Uruguay, got tanked by the Czech Republic away from home, the one bright spot in their build-up is a 3-3 draw with Germany.The Ukrainian squad all ply their trade in the Ukraine with the exception of Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Andriy Voronin.

Andriy Pyatov is the likely goalkeeper with 19 year old Maksym Koval as back up.

Blokhin has preferred 4-4-2 in the friendlies but has also occasionally experimented with 4-5-1/4-3-3.

The back four has a youthful look to it with it having an average age of 24, centre back Oleksandr Kucher is the senior member of the backline at 29, his partner should be Yaroslav Rakitskiy with Yevhen Selin and Bohdan Butkin as full backs.

Bayern’s Tymoschuk will be the holding midfielder and the veteran is a tireless midfield general, Ruslan Rotan should be the central midfielder who pushes forward with Yevhen Konoplyanka and hot prospect Andriy Yarmolenko on the wings. Oleg Husyev is also another option out wide.

Andriy Shevchenko still soldiers on upfront but is a shadow of the player he was in the early 2000s, the other Ukrainian striking options are goalshy to say the least with 23 goals in 165 appearances between them.

Artem Milevskiy is likely to be the starter with Voronin’s international strike rate being 1 goal per 9 appearances. Yehven Seleznyov and Marko Devych are the other strikers.

The Bayern man is Ukraine’s most capped player having represented his country 116 times.

A tireless midfield general who will run himself into the ground for his team’s cause. He has captained his team many times and leads by example.

Although not a goalscorer, Tymoschuk is often the pivot of the team protecting the back four and looking to get the ball to his more creative team-mates.

The other host nation don’t have it as easy as Poland and are in a far tougher group.The squad lacks continuity and quality and their preparation looks with friendlies against Austria and Estonia looks to be an attempt to gain easy wins rather than prepare against quality opposition.

With a lot of players representing Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk, clubs who to put it nicely are not the best of friends, friction could arise between the team, a challenge which Blokhin must overcome.The defence also looks leaky with weaker nations such as Israel and Austria managing to penetrate the Ukrainian defence in friendlies
They may be hosts but I can’t see them getting out of Group D.

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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