July 25, 2021

Ukraine, all about the team

Collective. Or Zhovto-Blakytni, which means “yellow and blue”, in reference to the colors of the national flag.

  • The calendar (French time)

June 13: Netherlands v Ukraine, 9 p.m., Amsterdam

June 17: Ukraine v North Macedonia, 3 p.m., Bucharest

June 21: Ukraine v Austria, 6 p.m., Bucharest

The first two of each group as well as the four best thirds qualify.

  • The team that should play

Georgiy Bushchan – Vitaliy Mykolenko, Mykola Matviyenko, Sergiy Kryvtsov, Illya Zabarnyi, Oleksandr Karavaev – Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sergiy Sydorchuk, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Mykola Shaparenko – Roman Yaremchuk.

Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the Yellow and Blue have only participated in two European Championships, which they left in the group stages. The first in 2012, won thanks to their status as co-organizers of the Euro. The second, in France in 2016, without more success, since the Zbirna had been the first team eliminated.

  • The coach: Andrei Shevchenko

“He was one of my favorite players, if not my favorite player when I was a teenager. ” Before a friendly match of the France team against Ukraine, in October 2020, the Blues striker Olivier Giroud had said all the admiration he had for Andrei Shevchenko, the Ukrainian coach. Before sitting on the bench for the national team in 2016, Shevchenko was an outstanding striker.

If he made the heyday of Dynamo Kiev (1994-1999), it was above all during his seven seasons in Italy, at AC Milan (1999-2006), that he built his legend. In 2004 he won the championship, the title of top scorer and the Golden Ball. Above all, he lifted the Champions League in 2003 thanks to a liberating shot on goal against Juventus Turin.

  • A player: IIIya Zabarnyi

Benjamin de la Zbirna, the defender of Dynamo Kiev owes his first selection to the health crisis and the avalanche of injuries which decimated the Ukrainian team in October 2020. In a friendly match against France, he became, at 18 and 36 days, the second youngest player in the history of the selection. A neophyte who helplessly witnessed the correction (7-1) inflicted by the world champions in October 2020.

Since then, the central defender has sharpened his weapons by playing all of Dynamo’s Champions League matches. Again starting in March against France for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Illya Zabarnyi has shown signs of maturity in the face of Mbappé’s speed, which he has perfectly mastered.

Ukraine's IIlya Zabarnyi, in yellow, and Finland's Paulus Arajuuri compete for ball control on Sunday, March 27, 2021, at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
  • It happened to Euro

A goal denied following “Human error”, as Pierluigi Collina, the former star international referee, will describe it… and here is Ukraine prematurely stopped, in 2012, in a Euro co-organized with Poland. Against England, for a place in the quarter-finals, the Ukrainians dominate but are surprised by Wayne Rooney, who gives the advantage to the Three Lions from the start of the second half. The match switches to the 62e minute. England defender John Terry returns a shot from Marko Dević that went straight into the goal. The referee does not blow the whistle. The slow motion is however formal: the ball has crossed the line. Fifteen days later, the International Board, in charge of the rules of the game, adopted a device to assist refereeing, called “goal line technology”.

Read also Football: FIFA brings technology to the goal line

On August 9, 1942, in a Nazi-occupied Ukraine, FC Start players face off against a team from the German Air Force. The Luftwaffe bows heavily (5-1) and calls for revenge. Three days later, the scenario repeats itself. But led by two goals at half-time, the Germans try to intimidate their opponents: “If you win you will all be killed. “ The Ukrainians did not waver and won 5-3. The Soviet propaganda will tell, at first, that they were shot, then that they were deported. In 1971, a statue in their memory was erected at Zenit Stadium in Kiev, renamed Start Stadium. However, after the fall of the USSR, a photo taken after the match shows players all smiles, while some testimonies undermine the Soviet version. However, some survivors maintain the legend.

If Ukraine and Russia can no longer compete in European football competitions since the conflict between them (2013-2014), it is different at Eurovision. In 2016, the Ukrainian Jamala sings 1944 in homage to her great-grandmother, a Crimean Tatar deported to Central Asia by Stalin during the war, like almost all of this Muslim people of Turkish origin. Jamala triumphs in the face of the Russians, yet given favorites.

The borchtch cultivates its mystery even on the plate. Tinged with purple, this hot soup combines beetroot with a combination of vegetables (cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, beans…) in a juicy meat broth. Unlike its Russian counterpart, it is accompanied by bacon and pampouchki, homemade garlic buns. A glass of yeast, a traditional fermented drink made from black rye bread, will satisfy the thirstiest.