After their splendid 2-0 win over Germany in the Round of 16, England’s Three Lions will be seeking to roar into the semi-final of Euro 2020 when they face Ukraine on Saturday in Rome.
Gareth Southgate’s men appear to have gotten better as the tournament has progressed and against a Ukraine side that has already fulfilled their target, and getting this far is a bonus-the odds surely favour the English team.
Before now, the only previous quarter-final outing for Ukraine was at the World Cup, where they bowed out to the eventual winner, Italy, in the 2006 tournament.
Ukraine have won only one of their seven matches against England, losing four and drawn two so everything is pointing at victory for the Three Lions but as they say in football, anything can happen.
Southgate is most likely going to revert to a back four against Ukraine after going like-for-like against Germany with the three-man defence that served England so well at the last World Cup.
There have been increased calls for Jack Grealish to start having done well whenever he has been called on from the bench.
Shevchenko will likely set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation against England. The system will morph into a 5-3-2 shape during the defensive phases, with the three centre-backs – Illya Zabaryni, Serhiy Kryvtsov, and Mykola Matviyenko – remaining compact in such scenarios.
Ukraine are depleted upfront as they are without striker Artem Besedin, who suffered a serious knee injury during the game against Sweden defender
Southgate will check on the fitness of Bukayo Saka after the Arsenal man suffered a “slight knock” in training.
Also, Kieran Trippier has been nursing a muscular injury but did train with the squad Friday, hinting that he will be fit to feature in Rome.
The England quartet of Harry Maguire, Phil Foden, Declan Rice, and Kalvin Phillips will be suspended if they pick up another yellow card in Rome, while Ukraine’s quartet of Sergiy Sydorchuk, Mykola Shaparenko, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Artem Dovbyk run the same risk.
Form guide (most recent first)
10/09/13 WQE Ukraine 0 – 0 England
11/09/12 WQE England 1 – 1 Ukraine
19/06/12 EUC England 1 – 0 Ukraine
10/10/09 WQE Ukraine 1 – 0 England
01/04/09 WQE England 2 – 1 Ukraine
What the managers are saying
“We have achieved our main goal already and everything else will be a bonus. Probably, there is a different pressure on England. They are seen as favourites but everyone perfectly knows that anything can happen in football.” – Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine Manager
“If we give them space to play, they’ll play, and they’ve got some dangerous forwards. We’ve achieved one challenge but that’s not the Everest we set ourselves. We want to push on.” – Gareth Southgate, England Manager
Prediction: Ukraine 1-2 England