With national legend Andriy Shevchenko at the helm, Ukraine have made significant progress since the disappointment of losing all three group games at EURO 2016 and failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
While some regard the Yellow and Blue as underdogs at EURO 2020, there is an undercurrent of optimism among their fans.
A mix of promising young players and experienced stars, as well as the presence of cult hero Shevchenko in the manager’s dugout, means that Ukraine’s players deserve serious consideration for our Fantasy squads.
In partnership with UEFA, we continue our series of EURO 2020 articles by examining Ukraine in detail to see if any of their players can compete for a place in your Fantasy teams.
ROAD TO QUALIFICATION
UKRAINE’S EURO 2020 QUALIFICATION RECORD
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Clean sheets|
The main source of hype around this Ukraine team stems from their hugely impressive qualification campaign where they went unbeaten in a group containing Portugal and Serbia, winning it by three points after eight matches.
Across the campaign, Shevchenko’s men won six and drew two, scoring 17 goals in the process, two of which came in a landmark 2-1 win over Portgual in October 2019.
Perhaps most impressively, they only conceded four goals in qualifying, half of them coming in their final game against Serbia (a 2-2 draw) while one was a Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m) penalty.
In that match, Ukraine had to show defensive resolve after scoring two goals in the opening 27 minutes, ultimately stopping them from netting in open play at all, and conceding as late as the 72nd minute when Ronaldo stepped up to dispatch a spot-kick, but still holding on for the win.
To put that result into context, their impressive counter-attacking style helped them take eight points off the other two big sides in qualifying Group B, scoring a combined nine goals and letting in just three, proving that Ukraine can hold their own at EURO 2020.
UKRAINE’S MATCHES IN 2020 AND 2021
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Clean sheets|
That said, since their impressive qualification for EURO 2020, Ukraine have performed poorly on the international stage.
Relegation from the UEFA Nations League A showcased a reversal from their defensive solidarity shown in the group stages, as they conceded 13 goals in just six matches.
There were heavy losses to Spain (4-0), Germany (3-1) and Switzerland (3-0), compounded with a 7-1 thrashing from world champions France in a friendly.
Ukraine still managed two Nations League wins, against Switzerland (2-1) and Spain (1-0) although the one player who can perhaps hold his head up high from the Nations League campaign is Viktor Tsyhankov (€6.5m) who got two goals in the competition, including the only goal in the victory against Spain.
2021 has seen a rather freak series of results, with Ukraine drawing all four of their matches 1-1 (against France, Finland, Kazakhstan and Bahrain).
Three of those took place in their opening three World Cup 2022 qualifying matches, already pitting them in a battle for second place with Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There is no doubt the Yellow and Blue must rediscover their qualification form if they are to fulfil their potential at EURO 2020. Thankfully, they do have players good enough to achieve that…
- Most starts: Ruslan Malinovsky, Mykola Matvyenko, Andriy Pyatov (all 8), Sergey Krivtsov, Vitaliy Mykolenko , Oleksandr Zinchenko (all 7), Taras Stepanenko, Roman Yaremchuk (both 6)
- Most goals: Roman Yaremchuk (4), Ruslan Malinovskyi, Viktor Tsygankov (both 3)
- Most assists: Ruslan Malinovsky (4), Oleksandr Karavayev, Andriy Yarmolenko (both 2)
- Goals scored: 17
- Goals conceded: 4
- Clean sheets: 5
Ukraine appear to have a strong squad and aren’t overly reliant on one “superstar” player to score their goals, perhaps a slightly worrying sign for potential Fantasy investors.
Roman Yaremchuk (€7.0m) was the top scorer in qualifiers, with four goals to his name. He suffered an Achilles tendon injury last season, but that appears to be behind him now and he returned an impressive 17 goals for KAA Gent in 28 appearances.
Ukraine tend to operate in a 4-3-3 formation, with fast wingers in Andriy Yarmolenko (€8.5m) and Viktor Tsyhankov (€6.5m) supporting Yaremchuk in attack when fit.
Tsyhankov in particular could be someone that could serves as a real differential. He has 0% ownership at the time of writing and comes into the tournament in good form, having just been voted the Ukrainian Premier League player of the season.
If goal-scoring is somewhat spread around, thankfully there is a clear hub for Ukraine’s assist generation. Ruslan Malinovskyi (€7.0m) is the real heartbeat of his national side and is often the man who tries to make things happen.
He had seven goal involvements during qualifying (three goals, four assists) and is armed with a rocket of a left foot as well as the ability to pick players out with ease.
It is worth noting though he does not have any goals for the national side since Ukraine qualified, although he has sufficient quality for many to tip him as one of the potential stars of EURO 2020. At the very least, he will be vital if Ukraine are going to get out of the group and progress further into the tournament.
THE LONG SHOTS
Oleksandr Zinchenko (€5.5m) plays in a very different role to what we are used to seeing at Manchester City. For Ukraine, the Premier League left-back is pushed further forward, operating as a box-to-box midfielder.
As well as helping the team out by starting attacks, Zinchenko often looks to exploit space and gaps to get further forward, as he did when he scored early in the match against the Ukraine during the qualifiers.
Even better is that, unlike assets such as David Alaba (€5.5m), Zinchenko is classified as a defender on UEFA’s official Fantasy game, which adds to his appeal as he will benefit more from any clean sheets the Ukraine manage to keep, as well as extra points for any goals he does manage to score.
Still, despite an impressive defensive record in qualifying, there is some concern over the deterioration of Ukraine’s defence over the last 18 months, as seen by some of their Nations League results.
Serhiy Kryvstov (€4.5m) and Vitaly Matviyenko (€4.5m) are centre-backs who are both decent options if the Yellow and Blue can rediscover some of their defensive nous for anyone not willing to spend the extra cash on Zinchenko.
However, it is at left-back where we may see the pick of the backline. Expectations are high for 22-year-old Vitalii Mykolenko (€4.5m) who is billed as a potential superstar in the making. He is yet to score for Ukraine but did manage two goals and three assists for Dynamo Kiev last season.
Olexandr Karavaev (€5.0m) should start at right-back, but is a bit pricier than Matviyenko. He did register three goals and three assists for Zenit in 2020/21, however, so may be one to keep an eye on.
36-year-old Andriy Pyatov (€5.0m) lost his spot as first-choice goalkeeper for Shakthar Donetsk this season. Could we see highly rated 19-year-old Anatoliy Trubin (€4.5m) start instead at the tournament? He featured in each of their two most recent matches before Thursday’s action; a friendly against Bahrain and a World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan.
FANTEAM PRICE CORNER
Zinchenko is unfortunately (but rightly) classified as a midfielder in this game, which reduces his appeal, especially at €6.0m. Malinovskyi looks a steal with a kind price at €5.5m though.
Viktor Tsygankov (€5.0m) is even cheaper and could serve as a strong contender for those looking to save some pennies to invest in more premium picks in their squad.
While forward spots are precious, Yaremchuk is very kindly priced at €5.5m and could be a good differential, particularly in Matchday 2 when he faces North Macedonia.
With uncertainty around the Goalkeeper situation, investment in Pyatov (€5.0m) and Trubin (€4.5m) in goal perhaps does not look too wise. The back-line features a number of €4.5m options that could emerge as decent options, however, with Mykolenko (€4.5m) the pick of the bunch.