Ukraine vs. Red Devils and "Draculas": what you need to know about Group E at Euro 2024

Artem RossinskySport
Ukraine has every chance of reaching the playoffs

With less than a week to go until the start of Euro 2024, the intrigue is heating up. Today, OBOZ.UA is talking about the most important group of all Ukrainian fans because it will include our national team and its extremely difficult task of getting past Belgium and putting Romania and Slovakia in a fight.

Ukraine: fully prepared for the playoffs?

Since the home Euro, Ukraine has been a regular participant in the continental tournament. At the qualifying stage, we were able to show that even being in a group with the winner and finalist of Euro 2020 would not intimidate us. Yes, there were certain moments when it seemed that we were being drained, but we showed our strength to England and Italy. There was not enough action (that penalty kick), so Rebrov's team went through the second chance. The Nations League playoffs are still fresh in our minds: we won 2-1 with comebacks twice. That's how Ukraine made it to the main stage of the Euro.

Ukraine vs. Red Devils and ''Draculas'': what you need to know about Group E at Euro 2024

The lineup seems to be predictable: Sudakov, Tsyhankov, Svatok, Stepanenko, Zubkov, Konoplya, Mudryk will definitely be there. There are questions about the form of Zinchenko, Sydorchuk and Brazhko. The integration of Malinovskyi and Vanat will be interesting. Our attacking forwards have different tasks: Yaremchuk is hardworking and gives his best, Dovbyk is ramming and runs for the target. Most of the questions will be about the goalkeeper's position: before the goods showdown, we preferred Lunin, but against Germany, Trubin showed that he is also worthy of being number one. The competition at the goalkeeper position is fierce and the coaching staff cannot be envied here. However, worthy replacements for the field players, who can play equally well against Romania and Belgium from the first minutes, are growing. At the Euro itself, we will be rooting for perhaps the strongest team in history. Rebrov himself summed it up perfectly:

"I believe that this team has a very rich potential. We'll see how we unleash it at this Euro, but I'm sure that this is a very promising team for the future. We will build it, we will try to show the maximum result with these young and experienced players."
- Serhiy Rebrov, Ukrainian national football team coach

Ukraine's fourth consecutive participation in the European Championship is a new attempt to improve the result. The quarterfinals remain the highest achievements of the Yellow and Blues on the world stage: after the 2006 World Cup, the last Euro, we were also able to reach the 1/4 stage for the first time. The sparring matches against Germany and Poland showed that the Ukrainians are more energized than ever and ready to learn from their mistakes. This time, both the players and the fans have enough faith that we will at least get out of the group.

Ukraine vs. Red Devils and ''Draculas'': what you need to know about Group E at Euro 2024

Slovakia: third time at the Euro

Slovakia has a stellar past: as part of Czechoslovakia, they won Euro 1976. However, after the formation of their own state, the Falcons only made it to the tournament for the third time (this was the third in a row). The team managed to build something resembling a real team only in 2016. Since then, both the leaders and coaches have changed, but the desire to be among the best remains. The Slovaks came in second with a margin even in the qualifying group with Portugal.

The geography of the players is quite interesting: Suslov, Škriniar, Hancko, Haraslín, Lobotka, Duda, Vavro, Ravas, Schranz. They mostly play in the domestic or minor European championships, and only a few of them have reached the top, such as Lobotka or Škriniar.

Ukraine vs. Red Devils and ''Draculas'': what you need to know about Group E at Euro 2024

A few words should be said about the coach. Calzona has been in charge of the Slovak national team for 2 years now, and since the winter he has also been in charge of Napoli. More precisely, he was allowed to manage the club for several months until the end of the season. It is interesting what the coach will be able to bring to the philosophy of the national team after the Neapolitans failed to reach even the European Cup zone. The coach is very ambitious about the tournament, and after the top teams refused to spar with them, he even said, "The best teams in Europe do not yet know our true strength." Our expectations are that the most difficult game will be with our geographical neighbors. They are the second in the Euro quartet, before Belgium. Therefore, there will be a sprint with the Romanians, and here it will be a marathon for points.

Romania: a surprise for others or a weak team?

The Romanians have a very interesting tradition of qualifying for the Euros. They have been there 5 times, although since 2000 they have made it through every other year. If they make it, they are guaranteed to win (only in '16 were they second in the table). Now the Romanians have surprised the entire football community again: they came out of the selection group with Switzerland and Israel in first place without a single defeat and with a 5-point lead.

Among the Romanian players were Sorescu, Cicaldau, Marin, Man, Olaru, Dragus, Puscas, and Birligea. Of course, the most famous and expensive Romanian player on the application is defender Radu Dragusin, who plays for Tottenham. Most of them are trying to find fame in Turkey, the Balkans, or in Romania itself (Steaua, Bari, Konyaspor), while some are transferred to the elite championships (they play in Empoli, Alaves, or Palermo).

Ukraine vs. Red Devils and ''Draculas'': what you need to know about Group E at Euro 2024

The highest achievement out of five attempts is the quarterfinals 24 years ago. Now it will be the sixth, and with this background, it's not a given that coach Edward Iordănescu's men will be able to make a big shot at the Euros. The first game is against Ukraine, and we can easily earn points.

Belgium: we expect a lot of goals

Belgium is the record holder in our group for participation in the Euros. This will be their seventh attempt to finally add the first European Cup to their treasury. In the entire history of performances, only back in 1980 did they manage to reach the final, but there the German Hrubesch upset the Red Devils twice and they lost 1-2. They are not in a good mood for this qualifier either: they got into the group but had to tickle their nerves with the Austrians, Swedes, and even Azerbaijanis.

Ukraine vs. Red Devils and ''Draculas'': what you need to know about Group E at Euro 2024

So here we have it: the squad seems to have Doku, Trossard, De Bruyne, Vermeeren, Openda, De Ketelaere. This is attacking creativity and potentially a lot of goals. And there may be questions about the defense because the strongest names are old: Vertonghen, Meunier, Witsel. There is also Theate, Castagne, Faes, Debast: here we will have to combine experience with youth.

Belgium is among the top ten contenders. Although the bookmakers themselves believe more that this team will repeat the result of the last tournament and be satisfied with the quarterfinals. The Red Devils can win Group E, although the coach himself has already expressed concerns about Ukraine's strength. Tedesco hinted that the Yellow and Blues play well with 5 defenders, so they can deprive his team of the opportunity to score (like the Germans or Italians). But even in the playoffs, the Belgians may have problems from the very first stage.

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