England manager Gareth Southgate says mentality will be critical in Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine, as there is a “perception that all we’ve got to do is turn up”.
Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Germany at Wembley took England to within two victories of a first final in a major tournament since 1966, with Ukraine and either Denmark or Czech Republic left in their way.
Southgate says preparations for Saturday’s quarter-final in Rome have proven more difficult because the players are less familiar with their opponents and they will be playing away from Wembley for the first time this tournament.
The England boss is aware of a feeling among England fans that their toughest test on their way to the final is behind them, and says it is vital his players do not overlook the challenge posed by Ukraine.
“This is now a fantastic challenge for us,” Southgate told the Official England Podcast.
“We’ve got to go away from Wembley, into a potentially quite hot climate, hardly any England fans in the stadium, and maybe a not particularly full crowd full stop.
“The players knew, individually, so many of the German players and their direct attributes, [with Ukraine] we are having to learn a lot more quickly.
“We have watched Ukraine over the last year or so but of course not many of them are playing in the Bundesliga or the English Premier League. There’s obviously a couple who are.
“And then there is this perception that all we’ve got to do is turn up, and we are on our way. We’re very clear now that the total focus is on Saturday.
“We have to prepare the game in the right way, and our mentality is critical.”
Ukraine scouting report: Tired but tactically smart
Ukraine came through a gruelling last-16 tie with Sweden but showed with their formation flexibility in that match that they could frustrate England on Saturday.
England’s Euro 2020 quarter-final opponents Ukraine came through a gruelling last-16 tie with Sweden – but showed with their formation flexibility in that match that they could frustrate Gareth Southgate’s side on Saturday.
Artem Dovbyk struck in the final minute of extra-time to clinch a 2-1 win for Ukraine over Sweden at Hampden Park, just a few hours after England had dispatched Germany at Wembley, and the two sides will meet in the last eight of the competition on Saturday evening in Rome.
But what can Southgate’s players expect to come up against in the Stadio Olimpico? Football writer Oli Yew had the lowdown on the Sky Sports Football Euros Podcast…