Euro 2020: Sweden, Ukraine look to finally end knockout stage hoodoo

Sweden shocked everyone by surpassing Spain and Poland to top Group E and will look to continue the red-hot form into the knockout stages.

Sweden vs Ukraine has the potential to be one of the top games of the round. Image credit: Twitter

It might not look like the most appealing last 16 tie at Euro 2020 on paper, but Sweden vs Ukraine has the potential to be one of the top games of the round. On Tuesday, these two nations will clash at the Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Both sides will be bidding to win a European Championship knockout match for the very first time, with a spot against either England or Germany in Rome on Saturday at stake.

SWEDEN SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS

Sweden shocked everyone by surpassing Spain and Poland to top Group E. They will be looking to continue the red-hot form into the knockout stages. They’re up against a Ukraine side who sneaked their way into the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams.

Leading the current generation’s hopes has been top scorer Emil Forsberg, of RB Leipzig. The enterprising forward Alexander Isak has lit up the Euro thus far with his high energy performances. He is the youngest player to score a senior international goal for Sweden. Juventus prospect Dejan Kulusevski made an positive impact from the bench against Poland by providing two assists.

With a resolute back four, Janne Andersson’s attacking unit has also managed to meet the collective challenge of covering for talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence.

UKRAINE CAN PULL THIS OFF

Andriy Shevchenko’s team finished behind the Netherlands and Austria in Group C. Sweden’s late win against the Polish helped them qualify for the knockout stage for the first time since independence.

As a result, Ukrainian supporters hung a giant combined Ukraine-Sweden flag in front of the Swedish embassy in Kiev, carrying the message: ‘Thank you, Sweden, for the round of 16.’ However, they will now attempt to bite the hand that fed them.

Shevchenko’s men will again rely on the talents of Atalanta sharp-shooter Ruslan Malinovskyi and their vastly experienced creator-in-chief, Andriy Yarmolenko.

Dynamo Kyiv winger Viktor Tsygankov could be ready for his first start after stepping up his involvement against Austria. The 23-year-old, was suffering with a muscle injury. He has now come off the bench in the last two games and looks ready for a bigger role.

Fellow winger Oleksandr Zubkov hasn’t been seen since the opening game, in which he picked up a calf injury which is expected to keep him out for this one too. Denys Popov remains side-lined with the calf injury that has prevented his tournament from getting started yet.

These two countries have only faced off four times in the past, and it’s Ukraine who have usually had the last laugh.

Ukraine have three victories to their name, including in the last meeting between these two, which came all the way back in Euro 2012 and ended in a 2-1 courtesy of two goals from current boss Andriy Shevchenko.

PREDICTED STARTING XI:

Sweden Predicted XI (4-3-3): Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Augustinsson; Ekdal, Olsson, Larsson; Kulusevski, Isak, Forsberg.

Ukraine Predicted XI (4-3-3): Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Mykolenko; Sydorchuk, Zinchenko, Malinovskyi; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Tsygankov.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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