Who are Ukraine’s best players & coach?

Who are Ukraine’s best players & coach?


England will face Ukraine in Rome in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, with the winner to advance to the last four of the competition against either Denmark or Czech Republic.

Ukraine have never been this far at a European Championship tournament before and won their first ever tournament knockout game not on penalties to get here this time.

Here’s a look at key information about them ahead meeting England…

Oleksandr Zinchenko

Oleksandr Zinchenko has won three Premier League titles with Man City / Robert Perry – Pool/Getty Images

Oleksandr Zinchenko is the immediate name that will stand out for England fans. The 24-year-old has been a key player in Manchester City’s recent Premier League dominance and played a key role in Ukraine’s last 16 over Sweden, scoring the first goal and setting up the winner.

Despite being converted into a left-back by City boss Pep Guardiola, Zinchenko primarily plays in central midfield at international level. However, he did play on the left as a wing-back against Sweden and has done occasionally in the past depending on the tactical needs.

Ukraine’s other big name is West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko. The captain provided the assist for Zinchenko’s opener against Sweden and has two goals of his own at this tournament, including a stunner against Netherlands in Ukraine’s first game.

Premier League fans have only ever seen flashes of Yarmolenko at his best as he is still yet to have an injury-free season with West Ham, with 2020/21 no different.

Roman Yaremchuk scored twice for Ukraine in the group stage and Yarmolenko is the only player in the squad with more international goals than the Gent striker.

At the back, Mykola Matviyenko has been linked with both Arsenal and Tottenham in the past couple of years and has been rated at around £30m. He is Ukraine’s most capped defender and has been playing at a high level for Shakhtar Donetsk since 2018.

Andriy Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko was appointed Ukraine coach in 2016 / Robert Perry – Pool/Getty Images

National hero and 2004 Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko was appointed Ukraine head coach immediately after the team was eliminated from Euro 2016, having been an assistant at the tournament. The Ukrainian federation had actually offered him the job as early as 2012.

Shevchenko retired from playing in 2012 – his last ever game was actually against England at Euro 2012 – and initially entered a career in politics.

The former AC Milan and Chelsea striker was unable to guide Ukraine to the 2018 World Cup in neighbouring Russia but secured a place at Euro 2020 by going unbeaten in qualifying and topping a group that included reigning champions Portugal.

His time in charge also saw Ukraine promoted to League A in the UEFA Nations League, although they will return to League B for the competition’s next cycle.

Shevchenko has already said that his team will not be scared of England in the quarter-final.

Ukraine have shown tactical flexibility at this tournament. They started all three group games in a 4-3-3 shape, but switched that to a 3-4-3 system for the last 16 against Sweden.

In World Cup qualifiers earlier this year, Shevchenko also employed a 3-5-2 shape.

Ukraine only won once in the Euro 2020 group stage

Ukraine only won once in the Euro 2020 group stage / Robert Ghement – Pool/Getty Images

Ukraine’s qualification for Euro 2020 was no mean feat. They finished top of a qualifying group that included Portugal, were unbeaten and conceded only four times in eight games, which meant that only Belgium and Turkey had meaner defences en-route to the finals.

When they got to the tournament, Ukraine were involved in an entertaining Group C opener against Netherlands. Both sides showed good attacking intent and the Dutch went 2-0 ahead, only for Ukraine to come storming back into the game. However, in the end they lost 3-2.

Ukraine’s only win in the group stage was against North Macedonia in their second game, a 2-1 victory secured by goals from Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk. But they were beaten 1-0 by Austria in the third group game, which left them third in the standings and in need of others results to go in their favour to put them through to the knockout stages.

Ukraine took the lead against Sweden in the last 16 thanks to a fine strike from Zinchenko. But Emil Forsberg equalised and the game eventually went to extra-time. It was only after Sweden were reduced to 10 players that Ukraine managed to get ahead, a pinpoint cross from Zinchenko diverted into the net by emerging striker Artem Dovbyk.

Ukraine came into Euro 2020 as the 16th ranked team in Europe

Ukraine came into Euro 2020 as the 16th ranked team in Europe / BSR Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine were 24th in the latest FIFA world rankings before Euro 2020 began, which made them the 16th best European country in this tournament.

They would therefore have been expected to get through the group stage to the last 16, but by reaching the quarter-finals have effectively exceeded expectations.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!





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