Coach: Mykhaylo Fomenko
Colours: Yellow shirts, yellow shorts, yellow socks
v Germany (12 June, Lille)
v Northern Ireland (16 June, Lyon)
v Poland (21 June, Marseille)
Group Stage (2012)
Ukraine are more accustomed to instability than most, but entering a major international tournament under the spectre of a divided dressing room hardly provides the platform for a first ever foray into the knockout stages. The rivalry between the nation’s title-sharing titans Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk has rarely strayed into ‘amicable’ territory but, when Andriy Yarmolenko stuck the boot in (quite literally) on Taras Stepanenko last month, Ukraine’s chances of escaping a tough group featuring Poland, Northern Ireland and the small matter of World Champions Germany, appeared to decrease ever further.
Yet, increased confidence on the big stage, plus a swelling talent pool, gives the Yellow-Blues every reason to believe they can go one step further than their group-stage exit four years ago, when the joint-hosts exited via the ignominy of a Wayne Rooney tournament goal.
How They Got There
Through the magic of their main man. In a team of workhorses and watercarriers, Yarmolenko’s guile, skill and ruthless composure dragged Ukraine past Slovenia 3-1 in the play-offs. After netting the opener in Lviv, the talismanic winger’s last-gasp breakaway equaliser in the away leg ensured Ukraine avoided a repeat of their play-off collapse against France in 2013.
Yet, their narrow progression should not cloud the judgement. Ukraine finished eight points clear of Belarus in third place in their qualifying group, defeats to Slovakia and a David de Gea inspired Spain the only blots on an otherwise unspoiled copybook. Yarmolenko’s four goals, meanwhile, ensured he finished as the second highest goalscorer in Group C, form Fomenko will be begging the Dynamo talisman can maintain in France.
v Slovakia 0-1 (h), 0-0 (a)
v Belarus 3-1 (h), 2-0 (a)
v Macedonia 1-0 (h), 2-0 (a)
v Luxembourg 3-0 (h), 3-0 (a)
v Spain 0-1 (h), 0-1 (a)
Guess who? Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka shoulder almost all of the creative burden in the absence of a classic ‘number ten’ though 20-year-old Viktor Kovalenko, while not a guaranteed starter, offers a touch of guile amid the grind in midfield.
Goalkeepers: Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar), Denys Boyko (Besiktas), Mykyta Shevchenko (Zorya)
Defenders: Evhen Khacheridi (Dynamo Kiev), Bohdan Butko (Amkar), Artem Fedetskyi (Dnipro), Oleksandr Karavaev (Zorya), Oleksandr Kucher (Shakhtar), Yaroslav Rakytskyi (Shakhtar), Vyacheslav Shevchuk (Shakhtar)
Midfielders: Serhiy Rybalka (Dynamo Kiev), Denys Garmash (Dynamo Kiev), Serhiy Sydorchuk (Dynamo Kiev), Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev), Evhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Ruslan Rotan (Dnipro), Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar), Viktor Kovalenko (Shakhtar), Anatolyi Tumoschuk (Kairat), Oleksandr Zinchenko (UFA)
Forwards: Roman Zozylya (Dnipro), Pylyp Budkivskyi (Zorya), Evhen Seleznyov (Shakhtar)