Vitaliy Mykolenko: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MARCH 22: Vitaliy Mykolenko of Ukraine looks on during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group B qualifying match between Portugal and Ukraine at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on March 22, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Vitaliy Mykolenko: Profile

Name: Vitaliy Mykolenko

Date of birth: May 29, 1999

Nationality: Ukraine

Position: Left-Back

Height: 1.81m

Vitaliy Mykolenko: Introduction

The Ukrainian left sided full-back is one of the nation’s great talents. Vitaliy Mykolenko encompasses the key skillset of a player with excellent reading of the game, consistent defensive displays and a threat on the counter.

His crossing ability is at the height of his talents, often finding his target in a variety of crossing types. Not only a creator but a scorer of goals to, manipulating space and becoming a lethal threat when given the opportunity to poach at the back post.

Vitaliy Mykolenko: Background

Born a 190km drive from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Vitaliy Mykolenko grew up in the town of Cherkasy. Joining the Dynamo Kiev youth academy in 2012, Mykolenko quickly rose through the youth side and was granted his senior debut just 5 years after joining the academy.

It was not long before Mykolenko became one of the best young players in the league and was honoured as such. At the end of the 2018/19 campaign he was heralded by Ukrainian coach Mykola Pavlov as the best player of the season alongside the nation’s legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko who won best coach.

“Footballer of the Year – Vitaliy Mykolenko. The coach of the year is Andriy Shevchenko, the national team’s appearance at the Euros speaks for itself,” said Mykola. The full-back was also named by UEFA in 2019 as one of their ‘50 for the future.’

Speaking after signing a new contract with Kiev in 2020, Mykolenko spoke of this time at the club and the journey he had been on.

“Thanks to my native club and the president for the opportunity to defend the blue and white colours for another 5 years. It is symbolic that exactly 10 years ago I moved to Dynamo and started small – to play under Denis Boyko. Thanks to everyone who has been with me these 10 years.”

Expert insight on Vitaliy Mykolenko

101 spoke to Zorya Londonsk founder Andrew Todos.

“Mykolenko is comfortable playing at both left-back and left centre-back. However, he is most certainly best in his favoured position of LB.

He’s well known for his runs up and down the flank, looking to support the winger in front of him & on the overlap whenever possible. He possesses decent speed to be able to make those runs and he’s an efficient crosser to match. He’s even prone to getting the odd goal when he extends his supporting runs into the box. His pace aids in his ability to recover defensively too.

Mykolenko has good spatial awareness and his tackling ability is strong – albeit as  he’s not the most physical & on occasion this can be exploited. For both club and country, he’s been consistent in his performances, maintaining a high level work rate both in attack and defence against big clubs.

Although a natural left-back by trade, due to playing in the heart of defence during his youth days – he can slot in with ease in the centre, and has done so when called upon. Although, it should be noted that he lacks the physical attributes of height and strength to permanently play in the middle.”

Tactical Overview of Vitaliy Mykolenko

Mykolenko is an accomplished left sided full-back. The key areas of the role lie with the positional play in combination with effective duel winning, crossing ability and the potential to take chances in opportunistic positions. The best full-backs in the world have these traits in abundance and Mykolenko has developed these in a strong pool.

Whilst Mykolenko can play on the left as a central defender, his forte is that of a left-back. One which enjoys the fruitful efforts of driving the ball and his team forward into threatening positions.

Heat Map - 2015-2020 - Vitaliy Mykolenko

Heat Map | 2015-2020 | Vitaliy Mykolenko

When in these threatening areas of the pitch, Mykolenko’s crossing is one of the strongest parts of his arsenal. The timing and execution of these crosses range from low driven crosses to forwards making central incisive runs, lofted cut backs into the vacant spaces at the edge of the opposition box and right-footed crosses to the keeper’s far post.

In this scenario, Mykolenko has spotted the area vacant in the central part of the box. As the opposition defenders track back, the Ukrainian accounts for this and angle his cross into the space ahead of the open area.

In this scenario, Mykolenko has spotted the area vacant in the central part of the box. As the opposition defenders tracks back, the Ukrainian accounts for this and angle his cross into the space ahead of the open area.

The cross reaches the Dynamo forward who dropped off the back of the opposition defenders and into the vacant space to receive the cross.

The cross reaches the Dynamo forward who dropped off the back of the opposition defenders and into the vacant space to receive the cross.

The second scenario shows Mykolenko's willingness to attack open spaces. As the opposition right-back pushes up to close the space, the Dynamo midfielder plays the ball in behind for Mykolenko to attack.

The second scenario shows Mykolenko’s willingness to attack open spaces. As the opposition right-back pushes up to close the space, the Dynamo midfielder plays the ball in behind for Mykolenko to attack.

Having opened up a significant gap, Mykolenko has time to place his low cross between the area which the keeper cannot risk closing on the ball and the area for the Dynamo striker to take the chance.

Having opened up a significant gap, Mykolenko has time to place his low cross between the area which the keeper cannot risk closing on the ball and the area for the Dynamo striker to take the chance.

In this final crossing scenario, the option for a cross on Mykolenko's left-foot is closed down. The full-back chops back taking the defender out of the game.

In this final crossing scenario, the option for a cross on Mykolenko’s left-foot is closed down. The full-back chops back taking the defender out of the game.

Using his weaker right foot, Mykolenko puts an inswinging cross to the back post over the goalkeeper and Popov nods the ball into the net. Displaying Mykolenko's ability to cross efficiently with both feet.

Using his weaker right foot, Mykolenko puts an in-swinging cross to the back post over the goalkeeper and Popov nods the ball into the net. Displaying Mykolenko’s ability to cross efficiently with both feet.

Mykolenko is confident enough to take on opportunities independently also. The Ukrainian is good at identifying space and can be tactical in dropping off the radar of the opposition full-back and then attack the space once it has been vacated to take the opportunity to score.

Mykolenko spots the space inefficiently covered by the opposition full-back, calls for the cross and attacks the space.

Mykolenko spots the space inefficiently covered by the opposition full-back, calls for the cross and attacks the space.

The cross finds Mykolenko and he gratefully hits the ball back across the closing keeper to wrong foot him and score.

The cross finds Mykolenko and he gratefully hits the ball back across the closing keeper to wrong foot him and score.

This scenario shows a very similar situation where an even greater area of space has been left vacant for Mykolenko to attack.

This scenario shows a very similar situation where an even greater area of space has been left vacant for Mykolenko to attack.

This time Mykolenko finishes through the keepers legs to convert the cross.

This time Mykolenko finishes through the keepers legs to convert the cross.

Defensively Mykolenko’s speed allows him to keep up with pacey wingers and also accelerate to close and intercept passes. Reading the game well and with his level of tackling ability has meant the Ukrainian is trusted in more central defensive positions when needed for cover.

Playing on the left of a back three, Mykolenko anticipates the pass from Morata and accelerates to close down the pass.

Playing on the left of a back three, Mykolenko anticipates the pass from Morata and accelerates to close down the pass.

Mykolenko challenges Dybala and wins the ball and possession for Dynamo. Displaying the full-back's speed and spatial awareness.

Mykolenko challenges Dybala and wins the ball and possession for Dynamo. Displaying the full-back’s speed and spatial awareness.

Facing through passes against speedy wingers, Mykolenko's pace enables him, in this scenario, to accelerate towards the Shakhtar pass.

Facing through passes against speedy wingers, Mykolenko’s pace enables him, in this scenario, to accelerate towards the Shakhtar pass.

Reaching the ball first, Mykolenko's tackle doesn't simply kick the ball out of play. The Ukrainian hooks the ball and takes it away from the Shakhtar player recovering possession.

Reaching the ball first, Mykolenko’s tackle doesn’t simply kick the ball out of play. The Ukrainian hooks the ball and takes it away from the Shakhtar player recovering possession.

Mykolenko’s abilities as a full-back are maturing and being refined with every passing season. The Ukrainian’s versatility make him an attractive prospect for potential suitors and a vital asset for his club and nation.

Vitaliy Mykolenko: Official video

Vitaliy Mykolenko: Social sites

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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