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…
How much will Ukraine’s win over Sweden have taken out of them?
Yew: “Really, the big winner on Tuesday night at Hampden Park was England. The match took it out of Ukraine and Sweden physically. But Ukraine did it when it mattered. Oleksandr Zinchenko produced a moment of magic, a superb cross, which was headed home by Dovbyk.
“We can talk about the fatigue and obviously it is a factor but there’s nothing that puts energy in the legs more than a last-minute winner, especially in the last minute of extra-time. It’s a Euro 2020 quarter-final, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both sides. This is as far as Ukraine have got in a major tournament, so it is huge for them and they will be buzzing after this dramatic win.
“The template for England has been to hold firm, stay tight, stay in the game then exploit the opposition with their creative players in the second half. I’m sure they will look to do that again, especially with the fatigue that could creep into the Ukraine side.”
What will Ukraine’s approach to the game be?
Yew: “Ukraine will pose a threat but the way they set up against Sweden will have thrown a bit of a spanner into the works for Southgate. We saw them in the group stage in end-to-end games but they really changed it up against Sweden, and that will keep Southgate guessing about what they might do in Rome.
“It was surprising that Shevchenko changed up the tactics slightly, in terms of their system. They usually play a 4-3-3 but he switched to three at the back and they played two holding midfielders.
“Ruslan Malinovskyi was superb for Ukraine during the group stage, he was brilliant against North Macedonia. But he dropped down to the bench, so they set up to deal with Sweden’s threat, they were a bit more cautious and looked to hit on the break. Expect the same approach in Rome on Saturday.”
What are Ukraine’s strengths?
Yew: “Zinchenko’s goal was a brilliant finish and the cross to set up the winner was another brilliant moment for him. Ukraine have also got Andriy Yarmolenko, who had a difficult season at West Ham, but he’s really a talismanic figure for them, he was brilliant throughout the group stages and he’s a key figure in everything he does. England will know all about him cutting in off the right flank and that left-footed shot and they will have to prepare for that.
“With Malinovskyi and Dovbyk, who got the winner, and Marlos and Viktor Tsyhankov they have got options on the bench. Shevchenko will look to use them too, especially with them playing 120 minutes tonight.
“Whether he freshens the team up, he will turn to that bench at some point in Rome. They have got threat, they are a technically good side, Shevchenko has shown he’s tactically aware and can change the system when required and it will be an interesting game and interesting to see how Southgate reacts to Ukraine.
“They are technically sound, a good footballing side, and you cannot underestimate Shevchenko’s role with this team. He’s a Ukraine legend and he inspires them. He will have them ready to go on Saturday night, that’s for sure.
“They will not be frightened of England, they will give it a go.”
Two to watch
Sky Sports’ Russ Taylor, who has worked for Ukrainian TV and media, has picked out two players to keep an eye on…
Taylor: “Ukraine need their big players to step up and one who has been a little disappointing, who has been linked to the Premier League, is Atalanta’s Malinovskyi. He’s an attacking midfielder, a really gifted player, who can shoot from range, set up goals. They need more from him because he was left out in games recently.
“The other one, who has done well in this tournament players in Belgium with Ghent, called Roman Yaremchuk. He’s an out-and-out No9. Ukraine have been craving this.
“When you think of Ukraine you think of Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov but what they have really lacked recently is a No 9 and a goal scorer. Yaremchuk has done that in this tournament. He’s another one who I think will come to the Premier League and people are watching him. They need him to take his chances.”
Southgate proves he knows best | Is it final minimum now for England? | Football’s coming, Rome! Ukraine scouting report
No, you did not dream it. England have beaten Germany in a knockout game, winning 2-0 at Wembley on an historic night to clear the path through Euro 2020. Alice Piper is joined by Rob Dorsett, Pete Smith and Gerard Brand to discuss the famous victory, including how Gareth Southgate once again proved his critics wrong.
With Ukraine up next, and Denmark or Czech Republic waiting in the semi-final, is the final now a minimum expectation for England? With Southgate’s side favourites on Saturday, how will they set up? Plus: praise for Sterling, Grealish, Saka, Pickford, Kane and… well, just about everyone.
And in part 3, Oli Yew pops in for a Ukraine scouting report after their last-gasp extra-time win over Sweden. Should they be feared? All roads lead to Rome for Saturday’s quarter-final tie…