Co-hosts Ukraine will be looking to their senior pros such as Andriy Shevchenko to provide some experience to a team whose players haven’t had much involvement in big matches.
This is most notable in their goalkeepers, with first choice Olexandr Shovkovsky missing the tournament with a shoulder injury, it means two of their stoppers only have one full cap between them.
Another player who will be vital on and off the pitch will be Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. The Bayern Munich man is Ukraine’s most capped player and brings with him the experience of still playing at the highest level in Europe.
Ex-Liverpool forward Andriy Voronin has also made it into the final 23-man squad.
Currently ranked 50th in FIFA’s rankings, Ukraine are managed by Oleg Blokhin. Blokhin, who won the Ballon d’Or as a player in 1975, is in his second stint as manager – having been in charge in 2006 when they reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
Blokhin is also a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament.
It will be the first time they have made it to the finals of a European Championships as an independent nation. In fact they have only ever qualified for one major tournament, the world cup in 2006.
Key Man: Andriy Shevchenko – the former Chelsea man will captain Ukraine in the tournament and is the countries all-time leading goal scorer. If Ukraine are to progress through the tournament then they will need Shevchenko to be on form. And although he is not getting any younger, he still has the ability to finish a chance should one come his way. Equally, being Ukraine’s second highest capped player he will bring vital experience to the camp and to the less experienced players. It could well be his last tournament and he will want to go out on a high.
Best Performance: it’s the first time Ukraine has qualified for a European tournament, though they did reach the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup when they knocked out by eventual winners Italy.
Prediction: You never know how teams will fair in tournaments, especially with home support, but I think Ukraine will struggle to get of the group and I don’t think they will make it to the knockout stage.
This was an article looking at the Ukraine squad for Euro 2012 and published on the Sportsbyte. It can be seen here.