giovedì 7 giugno 2012


Euro 2012 is coming. Between all the players, teams and coaches to take a look to, there is one to watch. I mean Oleg Blokhin's Ukraine. They are the host - toghether Poland - and the world' eyes will be turned upon Ukraine both on and off field. Off field, Euro 2012 faced diplomatic crisis, with some Prime Ministers that won't visit the country. But we must to stay on the pitch. There, there is a sense of justice to see football coming here. In fact, while Total football is surely linked with Holland's Revolution, leaded by Rinus Michels and Stefan Kovacs in '70s, not enough have given Valeriy Lobanovskyi credit for installing his way to total football in Kiev, Ukraine. Lobanovskyi was a true genius. He imposed his style of play based on a high offside line, pressing, and players' position interchanges when nobody was playing like that. Lobanovsky believed in the application of science to football. In the mid-1980s, his tactics had been based on a computer programme that dictated positions for the players on the pitch. At Dynamo Kiev, he created one of the best football academy in the world to build smart and skillful players.
“Players have to react faster. Every movement, every action happens faster. Think faster, act faster, this is the football of the future.” (Valery Lobanovskyi 1996)
It’s hard to say if Lobanovskyi's nephews can perform well at this Euro Cup tournament. The home advantage means nothing. Oleg Blokhin, Ukraine's head coach and one of the best Lobanovskyi's product, likes a 4-4-2 formation but with one of the forwards coming back we can talk of a 4-2-3-1. Ukraine doesn't have superstars neither an established starting XI. On defense, there are lot of trobules. Andriy Pyatov is a good goalkeeper but who in front of him? Dmytro Chigrinskiy is out due to an injury. Yevhen Khacheridi and Taras Mykhalyk are considered the best centre-backs but there is also Yaroslav Rakitskiy from Shakhtar Donetsk. Also there is the possibility to line up Bayern’s Anatoliy Tymoschuk who played at centre-back this season. At full-backs, Oleh Husiev is one the choice at right-back, while Yevhen Selin is one of the options as left-back. Shakhtar's Bohdan Butko is an interesting backup. In the middle, Tymoschuk aside,  Denys Harmash could play as second holding midfielder; but Blokhin prefers a combination of a defensive midfielder and a deep-lying playmaker. So we have Serhiy Nazarenko or Ruslan Rotan. The wide players are the key of this system. Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka are the talents here, with Oleh Gusev which can also play on the flank. At forward, Andriy Shevchenko is the veteran with Andriy Voronin as another experienced man but the best option maybe is Artem Milevskyi. As Michael Cox pointed out, underdogs can produce results playing defensively and attacking on the break. Some players have struggled throughout the seasons so this could be the best way to play. But there is the Lobanovskyi's legacy...maybe Total football is no more here but can Ukraine sit deep and play the counter-attack in front of his own fans?

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