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Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: Can Ukraine make use of the home advantage?

Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: Can Ukraine make use of the home advantage?

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Friendly results have been mixed over the last two years for Ukraine. Manager Oleg Blokhin has returned for a second spell and is depending on experience. Goal.com analyses...

Off field problems surrounding Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine are in plenty. With racism, political boycotts and pricey hotel rooms, does anybody remember Ukraine’s football team? The co-host's preparations for the tournament have been nothing but chaotic. Myron Markevych was forced to re-sign as coach in 2010 following a bribery scandal at Metalist Kharkiv. He was replaced by Yuri Kalitvintsev, who led the Under-19 side to the European Championship in 2009, but in seven months as caretaker manager, Ukraine won just one out of eight matches.

Oleg Blokhin has returned for a second spell at the helm and appears to be assembling a side with a broad spectrum of experience. Andriy Shevchenko has 107 caps and 46 goals for Ukraine, but astonishingly, this will be his first ever European Championship. The other key palyers in the team are Anatoliy Tymoshchuk from Bayern Munich and Dynamo Kiev's Artem Milevskiy. Can the hosts grab home advantage and progress realistically in the tournament? Goal.com takes an in-depth look into Ukraine's tactics for Euro 2012...

FORMATIONS AND TACTICS

HOW UKRAINE DEFEND


Coack Oleg Blokhin fiddled with a 4-5-1 at the beginning of his tenure, before switching to a more apparent 4-4-2. With Dmytro Chygrynskiy injured, it's far from clear who Blokhin's two central defenders will be. Oleksandr Kucher, Chygrynskiy's usual partner with club and country, would seem to be the logical choice, but Yevhen Khacheridi and Taras Mykhalyk were recently paired together against Switzerland.

There is a tricky situation at fullback too. Against Switzerland, Blokhin played Rakitskiy, typically a center back or central midfielder, at left back, with Oleh Husyev, a winger, at right back. A more youthful and conservative choice would be the pairing of Bohdan Butko and Yevhen Selin.

HOW UKRAINE ATTACK


Bayern Munich's 33 year old Tymoshchuk will play sweeper in front of the back four, allowing Blokhin to play both Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka on the flanks, and then either a central creator in Serhiy Nazarenko or, more likely, a scamperer with a dash of youthful energy in Ruslan Rotan. Devych is aggressive and big built, formidable in his own way but not too gifted in the technical aspect, and it seems likely that it will come down to a choice between him and the more skillful but less reliable Milevskiy. Then linking between the target man and the midfield will be either the hardworking Voronin or Shevchenko.

Much of the team’s attacking threat will be in the wide positions where Andriy Yarmolenko (22, Dynamo Kiev, right-sided) and Yevhen Konoplyanka (22, Dnipro, left-sided) offer very different types of threat.

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strengths - Yarmolenko is a poised and skilful dribbler with a wand-like left foot. His team-mate Konoplyanka is a far more explosive proposition, with ferocious acceleration and desire to run in behind. Their quality also gives Blokhin the option of adding another anchor midfielder alongside Tymoshchuk and pushing the two wide men further forwards to support a single striker. When in form, they are arguably the highlight of this team.

Weaknesses -
The mixed results in friendly matches and illness to 10 players in the squad make Ukraine look rather toothless in attack, vulnerable in defence and most importantly psychologically fragile.

Opportunities -
With questions surrounding the new look France, and England very much in transition, Ukraine can smell an opportunity to progress on home soil. Their home fans can be their biggest strength.

Threats -
Ukraine's central defensive pairing expose themselves too easily and find it difficult to execute the offside trap. With Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic masterful in exposing bad positioning, Ukraine will have to be careful against world class players like Rooney and Zlatan.

COACH IN QUOTE

It was not clear what the players ate to make them ill, nor was it possible to say, yet, whether the mass illness would affect the side’s chances at the European championship

- Oleg Blokhin


THE VERDICT

Ukraine have a mix of exciting young talent and experienced players. That would still not be enough to take them through to the quarterfinal stage. The home support is their only hope of reaching the knockout stage. Teams like France, Sweden and England can break them down.

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