Ukraine are a team with an overall inconsistent record in major international tournaments. They first qualified for a major tournament in 2006 when they ultimately fell in the Quarter-finals of the World Cup, it has been a rather sorry story ever since.
Their qualifying campaigns for the 2008 Euro's and 2010 World Cup ended in failure as well as their most recent attempt to qualify for Brazil in 2014, in fact the only time they have qualified for a major tournament since, was at the 2012 European championships of which they hosted and received an automatic place.
On a positive note Ukraine reached Euro 2016 via a comprehensive victory in the play-offs, beating Slovenia 3-1 over 2 legs. After putting in a workman like performance they dispatched the visitors 2-0 in the first leg with over 15 goal attempts and winning 52% possession, they then travelled to Maribor and after going a goal behind battled to earn a 1-1 draw which saw Ukraine reach the Finals.
Another positive would be the caliber of players that Ukraine possess in their squad, the standout being Andriy Yarmolenko who has been linked with multiple Premier League clubs after leading Dynamo Kiev to consecutive league and cup titles as well as putting in consistent performances in Europe.
The other standout name on the team sheet would be that of the captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk who boasts clubs on his CV such as Zenit St Petersberg and the mighty Bayern Munich. He possesses a Champions League winners medal as well as winning both domestic competitions in Russia and Germany and is definitely a player of extreme value to Ukraine.
With the aforementioned players in theirs ranks, Ukraine could possibly surpass their previous achievements in this tournament, however they are drawn in a tough looking group with reigning World Champions Germany looking likely to book the top spot. The goal hungry Poland are the obstacle standing in Ukraine's way of automatic qualification, and this group could go down to the wire with a real nail biting finish, as Ukraine are set to take on Poland on 21st June in the last group match which will ultimately decide who goes through to the knockout stages and it's a good bet that Poland will possess too much fire power and book the 2nd automatic qualification spot.
|Poland / Ukraine||2012||Group Stage||13|
In recent years it has been reasonably quiet in the summer for many Ukrainian football fans, with a solitary appearance at Euro 2012 in which they qualified as hosts automatically but still departed at the Group Stage, but this year the squad seems to be of high quality and they can be hopeful of a good showing.
|12.06.16||17.00||Poland||1 - 0||Northern Ireland|
|12.06.16||20.00||Germany||2 - 0||Ukraine|
|16.06.16||17.00||Ukraine||0 - 2||Northern Ireland|
|16.06.16||20.00||Germany||0 - 0||Poland|
|21.06.16||17.00||Ukraine||0 - 1||Poland|
|21.06.16||17.00||Northern Ireland||0 - 1||Germany|
Although paired with the World Cup winners Germany - Ukraine will still fancy their chances of getting out of the group. Their main threat, bar the Germans, must be Poland who have the firepower of Robert Lewandoswki to call on. Although Ukraine must be confident in the quality of their squad and may have a chance of an upset if they can take points off either of the big 2 and then beat Northern Ireland, who at their first international tournament will not be an easy nut to crack.
It really is a tough call, as Ukraine are one of the better quality teams at Euro 2016, they've just been handed a rough draw. We fancy Poland to take the spoils, but if Ukraine can pick up a draw somewhere along the lines and a win against Northern Ireland, they should go through as one of the 'Best Losers'.
Below is a list of the 4 teams drawn in Group C and their FIFA World Ranking, as you can see, Ukraine are ranked similar to Poland and Northern Ireland but in truth Poland and Ukraine are relatively evenly matched with Northern Ireland trailing along way behind in terms of quality and experience.
Ukraine possess a number of good quality players all capable of finding the back of the net, there was a good spread of goals across the front line for Ukraine during qualifying, with star forward Andriy Yarmolenko leading the charge.
Their main asset here is that they are not too reliant on one man for goals, they can spread the workload across the squad. Although their star man Yarmolenko does come out on top in terms of goals scored, and he will terrorize any defence put in his way this Summer with sheer brute strength and power.
|Yevhen Konoplyanka||26||Midfield / Forward||2|
Ukraine unfortunately face 2 teams in Group C who could potentially win Euro 2016, making a 3rd place group finish a good bet. If we were to be positive then Ukraine should beat Northern Ireland and they did beat Poland in their most recent game in the qualifying campaign for the previous World Cup. It would be a shock if they could take points off the Poles this time around as Poland have really come together as a squad and possess that steely belief that they could go all the way - but anything is possible in international competition football.
Still, if this group goes to form then Germany and Poland will qualify and Ukraine will be left in third, however with the format this time around being such that the 4 best performing 3rd place teams in the group stages qualify as 'Best Losers', we may actually see Ukraine in the knockout stages. The bet here is Ukraine to leave in the last 16.
Andriy Yarmolenko is the man to watch in this team. A proven goal scorer at all levels of European football, Yarmolenko will be the man Ukraine look to throughout their campaign and his form will no doubt decide the fate of his country. The two big guns of the group may well be alert to his threat but still there's no stopping what can't be stopped and Yarmolenko is a one man wrecking machine and he may be able to bag a few vital goals in the group stages.
Ukraine are a solid unit from back to front, with two fantastic wingers in the shape of Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko who like to cut inside and drive direct towards goal, the back four defend determinedly and look to set up quick counter-attacks. With quick short passes, the team work as a unit and look to slide balls behind the opposing fullbacks for Yarmolenko and co. to latch onto.