Ukraine got off to a mixed start in qualifying after losing to Slovakia 1-0 but beating Belarus on their first away trip 2-0. Ukraine then began to challenge for top spot in the with a 1-0 home win over Macedonia and a 3-0 win in Luxembourg City over their hosts. However, when travelling to Spain they were knocked down a peg by a solitary Alvaro Morata goal. But they got things back on track with another 3-0 win over Luxembourg, and then they continued to bang the goals in as they beat Belarus 3-1 at home. An away 0-0 draw then followed with Slovakia before a win then came on their last away trip of the group when they beat Macedonia 2-0. In the last group game, Ukraine lost unfortunately to a well-drilled Spain team 1-0. This placed Ukraine 3rd in the group, which they then had to battle it out for a spot in France with Slovenia. Ukraine won the first leg at home 2-0 and on the return leg, Slovakia knocked the first goal in before Andriy Yarmolenko scored deep into added time to spark the celebrations as qualification was confirmed.
The biggest loss for Ukraine is surely going to be that of 33-year-old Oleh Husyev, who can play right midfield or right-back. The Dynamo Kyiv player would have reached his 100th cap this tournament if he had played in two of his team’s games. Instead, Husyev will have to wait for that magical moment as Oleksandr Karavayev has been taken instead, with Karavavev only gaining 3 caps before the international tournament kicks off.
Ukranian manager knows what it means to manage Ukraine. This man is of Ukranian descent and, in my opinion, has everything it takes to guide Ukraine out of the group this year. Fomenko has proven himself in the last 4 years with Ukraine, having led them out for 34 games, guiding them to 24 wins, 6 draws and only 4 losses in that period of time. With Fomenko’s contract running out however on the 30th of July of this year, the 67-year-old manager will need to turn on the style with Ukraine at this tournament especially if he is to prolong his, surely, imminent retirement.
The Key Players
Andriy Yarmolenko will be massive to Ukraine’s hopes of getting out of the group stages this year. Once courted by Liverpool and Arsenal, the 26-year-old will now turn his attentions to his country for the foreseeable future as he looks to add to his 59 caps at international level and push his side toward the next round.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is set to be the driving force from Ukraine’s midfield this summer as he looks to try and power them on towards the knockout rounds at least. The 37-year-old Ukraine captain is due to add to his 142 caps for Ukraine in France as the deep-lying midfielder will look to control the tempo of the game from his position.
How Ukraine Will Fare In The Euros
In my opinion, I feel that Ukraine can really push Germany and Poland this summer to try and get out of the groups. However, the only world-class player I feel that Ukraine have is Andriy Yarmolenko and when he doesn’t perform, there may be no hope for Ukraine. But with Northern Ireland also looking to produce a shock heading into the tournament, Ukraine could have a battle on their hands to try and come third in the group and hope that the points they gain whilst coming third will be enough to help them through to the knockout stages.