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Euro 2016 Profile: Ukraine looking to improve on group exit four years ago

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Former star striker Shevchenko on backroom staff for Euros, so can he be as influential off the field as he was on it?

We’re profiling all 24 teams that will be competing in France, so punters will have an expert view as Europe’s finest compete this summer.

This time we focus on Ukraine, a nation making their second Euros appearance after co-hosting the competition in 2012.

Ukraine now face a tough Group C consisting of World Cup champions Germany, Northern Ireland and Poland with Boylesports having them at 11/5 to finish second and reach the knockout phase.

History at the Euros: This will be the first time the nation has qualified for the competition, as they were automatically featured in 2012 as co-hosts. Ukraine won their opening game against Sweden but were eliminated after losses to France and England four years ago.

Ukraine finished third in their 2016 qualifying Group C behind Spain and Slovakia and had to rely on a play-off win against Slovenia to seal a place in the tournament.

Head coach: Since taking charge in 2012, Mykhaylo Fomenko has created a formidable solid national team that kept six clean sheets in 10 games.

A disciple of the great coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi, Fomenko demands a fluid style but with the commitment to press and win the ball back relentlessly.

Ukraine’s record goal scorer Andriy Shevchenko was appointed Fomenko’s assistant in February 2016 and bet365 have Ukraine at 5/2 to reach the quarter-finals.

Key player: Andriy Yarmolenko’s goals were pivotal in the Euro play-offs, scoring in both legs of the 3-1 aggregate victory over Slovenia that saw his nation secure a place in France.

Skilled dribbler Yarmolenko has an impressive 14 goals in 28 games for Dynamo Kiev this season and has 23 goals in 57 caps for Ukraine, well on track to compete for Shevchenko’s goal record of 48.

The winger has attracted the attention of Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and shone in the Europa League.

Rising star: Viktor Kovalenko was Golden Boot winner of the 2015 Under-20 World Cup and is an exciting talent for the future.

The 20 year-old Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker has been compared to Kaka and excels behind the striker where his passing and vision take centre stage. Kovalenko performs best in a 4-2-3-1 and made his senior international debut in March 2016 against Cyprus.

Wildcard: Dynamo Kiev defensive midfielder Serhiy Sydorchuk is the heir to Anatoliy Tymoschuk and this tournament could be his breakthrough.

Sydorchuk is athletic and tireless when retrieving the ball and driving forward. He likes to drift into advanced positions and possesses a thunderous long range shot. His link up play with club-mate Yarmolenko will be something to watch out for in France.

Confirmed Ukraine Euro 2016 fixtures:
All kick-offs are British Summer time (BST)
Sunday, June 12th: Germany v Ukraine (20:00); Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, BBC
Thursday, June 16th: Ukraine v Northern Ireland (17:00); Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon, ITV
Tuesday, June 21st: Ukraine v Poland (17:00); Stade Velodrome, Marseille, BBC

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