Euro 2016 Thread....
Loss to the Irish was one of the most disturbing, gut-wrenching 'performances' I have seen as a fan. The fact I lost money on the game, and I'm being objective here, had very little effect on my feelings as a Team Ukraine supporter.
Their time here at the Euros can be summarized as: didn't get off the bus. While they played their game - Dynamo Kyiv style, Lobanovskiy style (absorb the pressure and take chances in counter attack) vs a semi-relaxed Germany - they looked ok. They looked good, actually.
However, against an opponent who was fully locked in and 'ready to die' out there to get a result, they faltered. On Thursday, this team collectively played as if this was the beginning of another 1.5 year long qualifying campaign, not a do-or-die game where losing just isn't a fu....ng option.
Millions of people, including MuggsyBogues, screamed at their TV for a good hour. And as much as I tried, in the words of Chris Rock, 'turning that sh.. off', I couldn't make myself.
It was a disaster that looked more like a certainly with each passing minute, ever since about midway first half. The +900 Northern Ireland were a better team for over an hour of play.
Konoplianka made some runs with little support but didn't do enough to create crosses and set pieces. With how little penetration he got going down his left side, Seleznyov starting was an obvious disaster as he can only score from within 5 feet of goal. It was almost like Konoplianka didn't bother to make runs, didn't want to get his feet wet. And I thought he would end up starring for Sevilla and maybe move to Real Madrid. Yeah, right.
Seleznyov - didn't get many touches, got frustrated, got a stupid yellow card. D-
Yarmolenko - probably our best player on the pitch - had exactly one clear strike on goal (that didn't particularly challenge the keeper)
The two 19-year olds were average. Very good start from #16 pressing the ball - he gave it all unlike half our players and had to be substituted in 2 half - but the way both guys shot the ball showed that, once again, almost no player on this team is ready for the really big stage. Not ready for the 'right here, right now'.
Once the Irish absorbed the initial pressure and started going up a little more, our backs showed they aren't much better than the Portuguese defenders (what a bunch of clowns!), and the wet conditions didn't help because there was always a chance that the pressing Irish would intercept and break away - the ball was harder to handle.
It was a team that never got off the bus, led by a coach who is (I believe) not tough enough on his players. They look like they are just here to collect a paycheck, not push themselves to something special.
What I'm getting at, however, is that while this team can be crap in crunch time (see those half assed shots on goal vs Germany that the Russians, or the Romanians would surely convert? see those 'shots' by the otherwise solid, but unbelievably impotent upfront, Shevchuk?)... they are still a good team that can be a dangerous underdog.
I believe a big part of their collective impotency comes from inadequate coaching and not being focused at the right time.
Now that the responsibility is gone - and chances to advance are purely theoretical - I think they should be rated almost as highly - if not as highly - as the Poles.
I've locked in some Ukraine AH +0.5 and will be looking into making extra plays before game time when teams are announced. Expect Seleznyov to take his rightful place on the bench and both 19-year olds starting again and making life hell for the Polish back field, at least for the first 45 minutes.
It's time to start creating a team that will make noise in 2020. Was I certain THIS team can beat Northern Ireland 'here and now', in 2016? Of course I was.
Will they surprise the world by beating Poland when it means, basically, nothing?
I wouldn't be shocked if they do.