Ukraine have the tools to cause rivals some pain
EURO 2020 GROUP C
ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO led Ukraine into two major tournaments as a player and he again has the hopes of the nation on his shoulders, this time as manager. The appointment of such a high-profile manager will take further heat off a squad who have already flown under the radar given that they lack the big name status of some of their rivals. However, an absence of star power is not directly indicative of quality and they were impressive in qualifying, going unbeaten in a group that featured Serbia and Portugal and conceding only four goals in the process. Results have been inconsistent since, with a Covid outbreak and subsequent forfeiting of a Nations League match partly responsible for their relegation in that competition. Despite that they have beaten Spain and drawn with France in the last 12 months, and their kind draw in Group C has given them a real chance of progressing. Their squad has a good blend of experience and youth, with a few of their 2019 U20 World Cupwinning team likely to appear this summer. They are solid defensively and have an abundance of talent going forward. Fans of Manchester City will be intrigued to see how Oleksandr Zinchenko fares. He is vital to his country, functioning as a midfield general rather than as a left-back, and will aim to combine with Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi to provide a touch of class in creative areas. Another player to watch is winger Viktor Tsygankov, Dynamo Kiev’s star man who contributed an impressive 20 goals or assists in as many games in the league this term. In one of the easier groups, and with a well balanced squad Ukraine are worth keeping an eye on.