- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

Much has changed for Ukraine in the four years since it co-hosted the last European Championship.

Following a change of government and a conflict in eastern Ukraine, one of the stadiums used for Euro 2012 is now under the control of Russian-backed separatists.

Ukraine’s footballers, however, have not been deterred by the chaos at home and have impressed many with their performances on the European stage over the last year.

At club level, Dynamo Kiev has proved tough opposition for the likes of Chelsea in this season’s Champions League, while Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk narrowly lost to Sevilla in last season’s Europa League final.

Internationally, Ukraine’s hard-fought playoff win against a robust Slovenian team marked the first time the country had qualified for a European championship, rather than taking part automatically as host.



While Ukraine was inconsistent in qualifying, two 1-0 losses to Spain showed flashes of its potential as a team capable of testing some of the continent’s top sides.

However, the campaign was tainted when UEFA handed down a punishment for racist behavior by Ukrainian fans in the final group game against Spain. As a result, Ukraine must play one future home game in UEFA competition behind closed doors.

Here is a look at Ukraine’s top three players and its coach, Mykhaylo Fomenko:

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YEVHEN KONOPLYANKA

The hottest property in Ukrainian football last summer, left winger Konoplyanka joined Sevilla for a reported 40 million euros ($44 million) after fierce competition for his signature. Following some electric performances in Spain, he is already being linked with some of Europe’s top clubs. The 26-year-old captained Ukraine in the playoff against Slovenia.

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ANDRIY YARMOLENKO

Ukraine is a threat on both flanks with Konoplyanka and the similarly tricky right winger Yarmolenko, who has been in impressive form in the Champions League with Dynamo Kiev this season. He says he is eyeing a move to a leading European club, but such is his love for Dynamo that he recently insisted on signing a new contract just so that the club will receive a transfer fee when he departs.

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ANATOLIY TYMOSHCHUK

He only played the full 90 minutes twice during qualifying, but the 36-year-old midfielder, a former Champions League winner with Bayern Munich, is a leader on and off the pitch.

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COACH: MYKHAYLO FOMENKO

The 67-year-old was a European championship finalist on the Soviet team in 1972 and has coached national teams on three continents. Fomenko has an impressive record of 20 wins from 30 games during his three-year tenure with Ukraine.

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