England are through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 after beating Germany 2-0 at Wembley. They now face Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine, who battled their way past Sweden in Glasgow, Artem Dovbyk scoring the winner in the 120th minute. This is how the teams compare.
Jordan Pickford has yet to concede at the Euros and has emitted far more confidence and calm in an England shirt than he has for Everton in the past few seasons. The 27-year-old has not been overly tested in this tournament, thanks to England’s strong defensive showing, but has been equal to anything that has been thrown his way, including good saves to deny Timo Werner and Kai Havertz in the last 16 against Germany. Ukraine’s Georgiy Bushchan has had more to do than Pickford – and also conceded six times – but is growing into his role as Ukraine’s No 1 and was one of his side’s best players against Sweden. Tall, confident and with a decent passing range, he has now permanently dislodged the veteran Andriy Pyatov from the starting XI and appears more secure with every game he plays for the national team.
Gareth Southgate has been criticised for his “defensive” approach but given England have reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament without letting a goal in so far so he will feel vindicated by his decisions. Tyrone Mings did well in the first two games but England have looked even more solid with Harry Maguire back from injury. The wing-backs Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw added further defensive stability when Southgate switched to a central three at the back for the Germany game. Ukraine also played with a three-man defence in their last-16 game, Shevchenko opting for a more defensive approach against Sweden than he had in the last group game against Austria. It worked fairly well but they had no answer against Emil Forsberg every time the Swede cut in from the left-hand side.
Shevchenko has tried several different formations during his reign but it would be surprising if he did not choose to field three central midfielders in his 3-5-2 with Oleksandr Zinchenko to the left and Oleksandr Karavaev to the right. The crossfield passes between the two, not unlike those of the Gosens-Kimmich partnership for Germany, were one of the few things that unsettled the Swedish defence in Tuesday’s game. The creative Ruslan Malinovskyi was a surprise omission from that starting lineup and he may have to settle for a place on the bench again. The midfield has been a huge talking point in England before and during the Euros, with Southgate continuing his preference of two holding midfielders, at the moment Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips. It has meant a lot of time on the bench for players such as Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and, after isolating, Mason Mount. There has been an outcry for Grealish, in particular, to start and it will be interesting to see whether the Aston Villa man gets a chance from the first minute on Saturday, with England expected to dominate the game.
Ukraine have outscored England by six goals to four so far this tournament although there will now be a big question mark over Andriy Yarmolenko’s fitness after a gruelling game against the Swedes. The captain seemed to be limping from the 60th minute onwards but somehow lasted until the end of the first half of extra time. He means so much to this team and his absence would be a huge blow for Ukraine if he does not recover. He has two goals this Euros, as does his attacking partner Roman Yaremchuk. England’s star man so far has been Raheem Sterling with three goals in four games and there is, overall, more quality in the England squad with Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all options.
Southgate may not have had anywhere near the same success as a player as his counterpart Shevchenko did – but then not many players have had – but as coaches they have both exceeded expectations. The 50-year-old former England defender has impressed on and off the pitch, taking England to the World Cup semi-finals and now to the European Championship last eight while also speaking eloquently on important issues such as racism and inclusivity. Shevchenko first took Ukraine to top spot in their qualifying group ahead of the Portugal, then reigning champions, and then led them out of a Euros group phase for the first time. Worryingly for Ukraine fans, he has talked about his desire to move into club football.
Ukraine’s players appeared exhausted against Austria in the final group game and admitted that they had felt tired after the final whistle. They then had eight rest days before the game against Sweden but again were visibly wilting towards the end of normal time and at the start of extra time before Marcus Danielson was sent off and they found renewed energy. For England Harry Kane has been the main concern as he has looked a shadow of his energetic best but the goal against Germany seemed to give him a renewed spring in his step.