12 June - Germany (8pm GMT, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille)
After battling their way through qualification, Michelle Bonsu explains how underdogs Ukraine hope to test their mettle against some of Europe’s biggest sides at this summer’s Euro tournament.
Since since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine has found it difficult to carve out its own identity. Although successful whilst part of the USSR, they still have yet to find their way as an independent footballing nation, and will be hoping to rectify that this summer.
Coach: Mykhaylo Fomenko — the man currently on the tactician’s bench was reportedly the federation’s third choice – after Harry Redknapp and Sven-Göran Eriksson apparently turned the position down. However, it has been so far, so good for the former defender, and should he help them out of the group stage, he will have written his name into the nation’s history books.
Preferred XI: Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Sydorchuk, Rybalka, Garmash; Yarmolenko, Seleznyov, Konoplyanka
During the play-offs, Ukraine lined up with a 4-3-3 set-up, which obviously paid dividends for them. As such they may opt to do the same at the tournament..
Look out for: By far, the key player to look out for will be Andriy Yarmolenko. At just 26, he is already second on his nation’s all time top goal-scorers with a solid 23 goals in 57 appearances since making his senior debut in 2009. Yarmolenko was crucial for Ukraine during their tough play-off matches against Slovenia – with two of the team’s three goals – and his Coach will be heavily counting on the Dynamo Kyiv man to lead the line.
Did you know?
…Germany P 5 W 0 D 3 L 2 F 5 A 10
…Northern Ireland P 4 W 2 D 2 L 0 F 3 A 1
…Poland P 7 W 3 D 2 L 2 F 9 A 8
Nickname: Жовто-Сині (Yellow-Blue), Збірна (The Team)
Calcio fans might remember… Andriy Shevchenko – AC Milan (1999–2006; 2008-2009)
Top Division: Ukrainian Premier League
FIFA World Ranking: 22
International honours: None
Most capped player: Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (142)
Leading international scorer: Andriy Shevchenko (48)
Ukraine at the European Championships:
1996 - Did not qualify
2000 - Did not qualify
2004 - Did not qualify
2008 - Did not qualify
2012 – Group Stage
How they got to Euro 2016: After finishing third in Group C, Ukraine were paired against Slovenia in a two-legged playoff. They then beat them 3-1 on aggregate to book their spot in this summer’s Euro tournament.