England take on Ukraine with form on their side, scoring 5 goals in four games of the competition so far. The Three Lions have been solid defensively having not conceded a single goal in their route to the Quarter-Finals. Having surpassed heavyweights Germany in the previous round, momentum is with the Three Lions as Harry Kane made sure he put to bed his goal drought getting on the end of a header supplied by star man Jack Grealish.
Ukraine overcame 10 man Sweden by two goals to one in the previous round to progress, with a late time extra time winner the difference on the night for Andriy Shevchenko's men. While England will be firm favourites to reach the last four in Rome going into the contest on Saturday, Ukraine are certainly underdogs looking for an upset of their own having nicely progressed through every game beforehand.
The last time England played Ukraine in a major tournament was back in September 2013 in the FIFA World Cup group stages. The contest ended in a goalless draw in Kiev. Previous to this scoreline the game also ended in honours even in September 2012 at Wembley Stadium. Goals from Frank Lampard and Yevhen Konoplyanka gave each team a point in Group H.
What team is Southgate likely to go for?
The team is yet to be determined although England didn't have any injuries to suffered to any personal against the strong opposition of Germany. However Gareth Southgate will be impressed with certain performances from the last game, Luke Shaw, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish were instrumental in England's goals in the latter stages.
Gareth Southgate must decide whether to risk players who have already picked up a yellow card with Harry Maguire expected to retain his place. Ukraine offer a different threat and so Southgate might well switch again to a flat back four. The Three Lions may revert to a flat back four after playing three centre backs against Germany. England have conceded one goal in their last eight international games when using that system. That would allow for an extra creative player in midfield with Mason Mount now pushing hard for a recall, the Chelsea midfielder has been back in full training with the squad after his 10-day isolation period ended.
Southgate may not have had anywhere near the same success as a player as his counterpart Shevchenko. 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 Championships last eight. Shevchenko first took Ukraine to top spot in their qualifying group ahead of Portugal, then reigning champions, and has now led them out of a Euros group phase for the first time.
Stamina may play a huge factor in this contest with Ukraine's players appearing exhausted against Austria in the final group game, the manager admitting they had felt tired after the final whistle. They then had eight rest days before the game against the Swedish side but against were visibly tiring towards the end of normal time and at the start of extra time.
World Cup qualifier, April 1 2009, Wembley, England 2-1 Ukraine.
Fabio Copello's England extended their 100 per cent record in their World Cup qualifying group to a fifth match thanks to skipper John Terry's header in the 85th minute. Peter Crouch had put the hosts in front with a first half-volley before Andriy Schevchenko, the current Ukraine boss who was with Chelsea at the time equalised with around 15 minutes of normal time to go.
World Cup qualifier, October 10 2009, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine 1-0 England.
The Three Lions winning run came to an end in the return fixture after Robert Green became the first England goalkeeper to be sent off. Green, whose area had been pelted with flares from the stands in the opening minutes, causing the game to be briefly stopped, was dismissed not long after for a foul on Artem Milevskiy, with Shevchenko striking the resulting penalty against a post. Serhiy Nazarenko then netted what proved the winner with a deflected shot just before the half-hour mark. England had already qualified for the World Cup while they finished group winners, second-placed Ukraine were eliminated in a play-off.
European Championship group stage, June 19 2012, Donetsk, England 1-0 Ukraine.
England advanced to a quarter-final clash with Italy after concluding their group matches at Euro 2012 with a victory over the hosts sealed by Wayne Rooney. Returning to the side after a two-match suspension, Rooney headed in from close range three minutes into the second half. There was subsequent relief for Roy Hodgson and his team when an effort from Marko Devic appeared to have crossed the line before Terry cleared but no goal was given. Ukraine exited, coming third in the group, while table-toppers England lost on penalties to the Italians.
World Cup qualifier, September 11 2012, Wembley, England 1-1 Ukraine.
Frank Lampard’s late penalty salvaged a point for England as they drew the second match of their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, having won 5-0 in Moldova four days earlier. Yevhen Konoplyanka put Ukraine ahead in the first half with a fine curling effort from 25 yards out, before Yevhen Khacheridi’s handball gave Lampard the opportunity to level from the spot in the 87th minute. A minute later Steven Gerrard was sent off as he was shown a second yard.
World Cup qualifier, September 10 2013, Kiev, Ukraine 0-0 England.
Hodgson’s side battled out a draw, with their opponents showing the greater attacking threat, that kept them a point clear of the second-placed Ukrainians at the top of Group H with two games to go. Those positions were subsequently confirmed, with Ukraine then failing to join England at the finals in Brazil after more play-off heartbreak.