It’s been a dream run so far for Ukraine who have made it through to the quarterfinals of EURO 2020 under the tutelage of Andriy Shevchenko. A late Extra Time winner from Artem Dovbyk shattered a 10-man Sweden side and the Blue and Yellow must replicate another spirited display on Saturday night against high-flying England.
The Three Lions have knocked Germany out from the Round of 16 and are yet to concede en route to the last eight. They are one of the favourites to conquer the crown and Ukraine would have an uphill job to defy the odds. These two sides have locked horns only once in a major tournament, that too back in EURO 2012 when Wayne Rooney’s goal proved to be the difference. Shevchenko earned a place in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals during his playing and it is to be seen now whether the iconic ‘number 9’ succeeds to script a major upset from the dugout.
Predicted 3-5-2 Ukraine Lineup Vs England
Heorhiy Bushchan has taken over Andriy Pyatov’s role between the sticks. The Dynamo Kyiv custodian has made some crucial saves so far this campaign and should expect another busy outing against the lethal attacking line of Gareth Southgate’s men.
Shevchenko preferred a ‘back four’ in group league games but opted for a three-man backline against Sweden. The wingbacks in this system offered the flexibility of formation as well as defensive resilience compared to their previous fixtures. Illya Zabarnyi is the rising star of Ukrainian football as the 18-year-old is expected to retain his place down the right-hand side. Mykola Matviyenko has been headstrong as a left centre-back, whereas the experience of Serhiy Kryvtsov must be utilized once more in the heart of the backline.
Oleksandr Karavayev has impressed as a right wingback. He knows how to balance the game between attack and defence but might still undergo a stern test against in-form Raheem Sterling from the flank. Oleksandr Zinchenko has evolved well as a left fullback under Pep Guardiola and the stunning strike against Sweden depicts his efficiency in the wingback role.
However, the biggest challenge for the coach would be the central midfield set-up as the gaffer should find a way to incorporate Ruslan Malinovskiy in the starting XI. He was introduced from the bench against Blågult and his creativity as a ‘number 10’ might help Ukraine stage counter-attacking threats against the run of play. Having said that, the Atalanta playmaker needs to be marshalled from behind and the presence of Taras Stepanenko and Serhiy Sydorchuk should introduce stability in the middle of the park.
Hitman Roman Yaremchuk has carried his Gent form with two EURO goals already. He must keep his place high up the pitch alongside Andriy Yarmolenko who has been stunning so far overcoming the disappointment of the West Ham stint.