Andrew Todos’ Ukraine v England preview: Ukraine have nothing to lose
Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Ukraine throughout Euro 2020
Ukraine just keep making history. Having somehow reached the Euro knockout stages for the first time in their history, thanks in no small part to Sweden, the Ukrainians ironically sent their blue and yellow counterparts home a round later.
Now, the man who guided his country as a player to their last major tournament quarter final (World Cup 2006) has done it again but now as manager. Ukraine have exceeded expectations and are more than comfortable in playing the underdog role against England.
Mykola Shaparenko has had a breakthrough tournament for Ukraine. Before it began, he was not considered a starter but his performances in midfield since have seen him displace Atalanta’s key man Ruslan Malinovskyi most recently.
His cross-field pass before Zinchenko’s opener showcased his fantastic vision. He came off rather early against Sweden for a tactical change so his fitness may be key in a side that may end up feeling those 120 minutes on their legs against England.
Shevchenko surprised many against Sweden by going for five at the back. However, the risk paid off and Ukraine were able to keep Sweden at bay for the majority of the game with such a defensive line up. It can be expected that Shevchenko will go for a very similar set up once more. The wing backs will be key in driving attacks.
Artem Besedin left for Kyiv straight after the Sweden game following the horror challenge on him, he’s out for six months. Zubkov remains with the team but questions about his readiness remain.
Ukraine have nothing to lose now. There’s no pressure on them either. This gives them free reign to go out and try to get an upset! Anything is possible in knockout football. 1-1 AET (Ukraine to win on penalties).