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EURO 2020 review: Ukraine

Team reporter Bogdan Buga takes solace in several plus points for Ukraine's young squad and tactically flexible coach.

Andriy Shevchenko and his Ukraine team applaud their fans after defeat in the last eight
Andriy Shevchenko and his Ukraine team applaud their fans after defeat in the last eight UEFA via Getty Images

Ukraine enjoyed a fantastic EURO 2020 journey before their run was halted by England. Perhaps they could have been more convincing in their games at this tournament but, in terms of the overall result, to reach the quarter-finals was an incredible achievement for this young and inexperienced side, guided by the youngest coach at the finals.

What were the positives?

Watch Yarmolenko's Ukraine stunner against the Netherlands
Watch Yarmolenko's Ukraine stunner against the Netherlands

Ukraine showed their tactical flexibility by switching from a 4-3-3 formation to 3-5-2 after the group stage and that decision from 44-year-old coach Andriy Shevchenko was judged a crucial factor in their round of 16 win against Sweden. The Synio-Zhovti also won plaudits for their attacking approach, even though they failed to score against Austria and England.

Tournament highlight

The Ukraine fans! They were simply amazing, so passionate and inspiring. Ukraine had the better support in the majority of their games – excluding their visit to the Netherlands, of course, and the quarter-final in Rome, where I would award the two sets of fans a draw. Sometimes it really felt like they were playing at home.

What the future holds

Ukraine team-mates quiz: Mykolenko & Karavaev
Ukraine team-mates quiz: Mykolenko & Karavaev

No fewer than 17 players in the Ukraine squad made their EURO debuts at the finals, with most of them aged between 18 and 25. They now face a very tough challenge in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, having France and Finland in their group, but this invaluable experience will surely help them grow and develop further.

Predictions for the rest of EURO 2020

In our pre-tournament survey, I predicted England to win the title, Raheem Sterling to be named player of the tournament and Harry Kane to finish as top scorer. Unfortunately for Ukraine, these all remain possibilities – and I don't see any reason to change my verdict now, even though England will face my predicted dark horses Denmark in the semi-finals.

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