England are set for a crunch Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday, 3 July 2021.
There's no room for mistakes. Not at this stage, not after the remarkable win over arch rivals Germany that ended a 55-year wait for England. However, that's valid for both sides and Ukraine will hope that the pressure would come too much for England and they can take advantage of the situation.
England have won four of their seven meetings with Ukraine – including a 1-0 win at Euro 2012 in Ukraine – and The Three Lions will hope to claim another famous win en route to Wembley.
However, England failed to beat Ukraine in each of their last two meetings – two draws during the 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Ukraine Betting Preview
Looking to put England’s dream to an end and continue their own fairy tale are Ukraine, who are in the quarter-finals of a major tournament for just the second time in their history – after the 2006 World Cup, when Ukraine lost to Italy in the quarter-finals.
Ukraine have failed to impress at Euro 2012 (on home soil) and at Euro 2016 – which was a complete fiasco – but Andriy Shevchenko's side beat the odds on their third consecutive European Championship and the legendary Ukrainian forward is proving himself as a manager.
Furthermore, Shevchenko has been the tactical wizard behind Ukraine's recent progress but we can hardly dismiss the contribution of four Italians in his coaching staff – two assistant coaches, including famous Mauro Tassotti, as well as a fitness coach and an analyst – Luigi Nocentini.
It's worth mentioning that Ukraine have qualified for the Euros with six wins and two draws in eight qualifying matches, including victories over Portugal (2-1) and Serbia (5-0).
Even though he made just one Premier League start for West Ham and failed to score in 2020-21, Ukraine will desperately need Andriy Yarmolenko available after the experienced winger limped off in Tuesday's clash against Sweden.
Artem Dovbyk has become a national hero when he scored the late winner against Sweden and will deputize if Yarmolenko fails to recover or is not fully fit.
Experienced midfielder Taras Stepanenko looked exhausted and was subbed off against Sweden so he can make way for Ruslan Malinovskiy.
In an attempt to boost his attack, Shevchenko could recall Ruslan Malinovskiy as the Atalanta man was surprisingly benched against Sweden and may well have to settle for a role as an impact player here as well.
Shevchenko also switched to a back three against Sweden and will most likely stick with that tactical formation against England.
Dynamo Kyiv's forward Artem Besedin is out for six months with a knee injury after a horror challenge from Marcus Danielson in Ukraine's extra-time win over Sweden.
England Betting Preview
Yet to concede a goal, England fly to Rome on Friday afternoon – their first and last game away from Wembley (regardless of the final outcome) – and The Three Lions are bidding to secure back-to-back major tournament semi-finals.
England went through the group stage in a comfortable manner, winning two of their matches against two other former Eastern Bloc sides – Croatia and the Czech Republic – and with a disappointing goalless draw against rivals Scotland.
Perhaps the manner of their wins, including their warm-up games, wasn't really inspiring optimism among the English fans but the 2-0 victory over historic rivals Germany – arguably Southgate's biggest result so far (also his redemption for the missed penalty against Germany at Euro 96) – silenced all the critics and suddenly turned them from doubters to believers.
Gareth Southgate must make some big decisions ahead of England's quarter-final against Ukraine. The England manager will most likely switch back to a four-man defensive line as he opted for a back three against Germany and this really provided sufficient defensive stability, but England will need to be more attacking-minded (not really attacking, but more than they were against the Germans) against Ukraine.
Jack Grealish was introduced as a second-half substitute and the Aston Villa skipper had a positive impact and pretty much inspired England's late raid. However, it's likely to assume he has no chance of starting if England continue in a back three against Ukraine and Southgate could be tempted to keep him as the golden substitute.
Declan Rice has been progressing at West Ham but with his performances at the Euros, he transformed himself into an elite midfielder and could be one of the most demanded players in Europe this summer.
However, it looked like Rice was struggling with an injury and was subbed off late against Germany, so Liverpool's skipper could earn his first start at Euro 2020, whether as a precaution or if the West Ham midfielder really needs a rest.
Even though he had once again struggled to influence the game. Harry Kane finally scored his first goal at the Euros as the England skipper headed in from substitute Jack Grealish's perfect delivery and will be keen to add to his tally against Ukraine.
Kieran Trippier may have to settle for a place on the bench, especially if Southgate opts for a 4-2-3-1, with Kyle Walker likely to start at right-back.
Mason Mount will most likely be recalled to the starting side as the Chelsea playmaker had missed the clash against Germany as he just came out of isolation with teammate Ben Chilwell.
Possible Starting Lineups of Ukraine and England
Ukraine: Georgiy Bushchan – Ilya Zabarnyi, Sergiy Kryvtsov, Mykola Matvienko – Oleksandr Karavaev, Sergiy Sydorchuk, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Mykola Shaparenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko – Andriy Yarmolenko, Roman Yaremchuk. (3-5-2)
England: Jordan Pickford – Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker – Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson – Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Phil Foden – Harry Kane. (4-2-3-1)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
England will probably stick with their conservative approach which was the case in their group games, when Gareth Southgate's men were rather efficient than spectacular, so we don't really expect a thrilling game in Rome.
Or in other words, the most logical outcome seems to be England to win to nil. However, we are yet to see England playing away from home and even though they remain -230 moneyline favorites to win the game (also at odds of -105 to win to nil with BetOnline), the Ukrainians have nothing to lose here and they may at least end England's perfect defensive record.