Euro 2020: Ukraine and England lock horns in Rome for a place in last-4

England will be aiming to reach their second consecutive last-4 in a major tournament whereas Ukraine will be hoping to make their first ever.

England national team training session ahead of their Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with Ukraine; Credit: Twitter/@England

Ukraine will take on England in the last quarter-final match of Euro 2020 in Rome on Saturday. England booked their place in the last-8 after a 2-0 win against arch rivals Germany at Wembley and thereby breaking the jinx. Meanwhile, Ukraine needed a 121st minute winner to get the better of Sweden and qualify for the quarter-finals of a major tournament for only the second time in their history. And now they will be aiming to reach the semi-final for the first time. England, on the other hand, are hoping to reach the last-4 of a major tournament for the second consecutive time after their semi-final appearance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Ukraine started the competition by losing 3-2 against Netherlands in the opening match before beating debutants North Macedonia 2-1. Even though the Blue and Yellow lost 1-0 to Austria in the final group match they qualified for the knockout stage as one of the best four third placed teams.

In the round-of-16 encounter against Sweden, midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko’s powerful strike gave Ukraine an early lead before Emil Forsberg leveled the score before the break. The match went to extra time and just when everyone thought it would go to the penalties, substitute Artem Dovbyk’s header took Ukraine to the last-8.

Meanwhile, England started the campaign with a lackluster 1-0 win over Croatia before being held by a resilient Scotland side for a goalless draw. However in the last group match they beat Czech Republic courtesy of a solitary goal from Raheem Sterling.

The Three Lions went onto the knockout match against Joachim Low’s side as probably the underdogs. Because of their previous results at major tournaments. But, this time around Gareth Southgate’s side came out with a defensive plan and executed that to perfection.

Their defensive lineup against the Die Mannschaft consisted of seven defensive minded players in the starting eleven, Even though that made the game little less exciting but got the result that the English supporters have been waiting for so long and that too at Wembley. Sterling broke the deadlock in the 75th minute at Wembley before captain Harry Kane broke his duck to seal the match.

Wounded Ukraine side after the last-16 encounter

Andriy Shevchenko’s side were left wounded after their previous match against the Scandinavian nation. Striker Artem Besedin was on the receiving end of a horrendous tackle by Marcus Danielson, that led to the Sweden defender receiving a straight red card in the extra time. Although Besedin hasn’t ruptured his ACL he will be sidelined for a while.

Oleksandr Zubkov is reported to have recovered from a calf strain and is available for selection whereas Denys Popov is out with an injury. The rest of the squad is fit and available. Meanwhile it would be interesting to see what formation Shevcheko deploys, whether he would go with a three at the back as against Sweden on revert to four defenders. If the former striker sticks to the three central defenders then Illya Zabarnyi, Serhiy Krystov and Mykola Matviyenko will form the three man back line in front of goalkeeper Horhiy Bushchan.

Dynamo Kyiv’s Serhiy Sydorchuk and Mykolo Sharparenko along with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Taras Stepanenko will form the three man midfield. Stepanenko is going to be the defensive midfielder with the other two playing a slightly advanced role.

Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko will occupy the left wing and Oleksandr Karavayev is going to be deployed at the opposite wing. Roman Yaremchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko will be the two strikers. Yarmolenko was impressive in the previous game setting up Zinchenko for the first goal before being substituted late in the match because of a slight niggle. He is likely to be fit and available.

Defensive English lineup

On the other hand England don’t have any serious injury concerns apart from Bukayo Saka, who is doubtful for the match. However Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell have completed their self-isolation and are available for selection therefore Mount can come in for Saka if needed. Meanwhile Luke Shaw at left back has done a fine job therefore Chilwell will have to wait at the bench for his chance.

Southgate is unlikely to make any changes to the defence which hasn’t conceded a goal in the competition so far. Jordan Pickford at goal has been impressive so far with John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker in front of him. Atletico Madrid’s Keiran Trippier will occupy the right-back position. The midfield duo of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips received yellow cards in the previous game. Southgate would be wary of that and has more than handy replacement in the form of Jordan Henderson on the bench. Harry Kane, Sterling and Saka(if fit) will form the front three.

In the previous match the difference was made by substitute Jack Grealish therefore Southgate might be tempted to bring in the Aston Villa midfielder in place of one of the defensive midfielders in the starting eleven to add a bit more creativity and attacking prowess to the team.

On paper, England certainly is the stronger side, they have a better bench strength compared to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine had to play 120 minutes of hard fought football in the round of 16. England, on the other hand, produced a professional display in the last-16 to convincingly come through.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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