Focus on England’s opponents in the quarter-finals, Ukraine
Ukraine are England’s opponent in the Euro 2020 quarter-final in Rome on Saturday.
Andriy Shevchenko’s side reached the last eight thanks to a 2-1 overtime win over Sweden.
Here, the PA news agency is focusing on Ukraine ahead of their clash with England at the Stadio Olimpico.
Shevchenko’s side qualified for Euro 2020 by finishing first in their group ahead of defending champions Portugal, while a Nations League victory at home against Spain and a draw 1- 1 against France, world champions in the past 12 months, shows that they are a competent team. Prior to their victory over Sweden, Ukraine’s only group stage victory was a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia sandwiched between losses to the Netherlands and Austria.
Shevchenko was a prolific goalscorer as a player and the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner was appointed to his first coaching post after Ukraine’s disastrous Euro 2016 campaign which saw him lose all three group matches. The country’s all-time top scorer received a vote of confidence after failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, extending his contract until 2022, and his side have since struck a balance between defensive strength and offensive creativity – entering in history by reaching the knockout stages of the European Championship for the first time.
Shevchenko primarily uses a 4-3-3 formation but a three center-back system is also an option. Ukraine’s game plan revolves around two creative midfielders: Oleksandr Zinchenko, who plays as an attacking full-back for Manchester City, and Ruslan Malinovskyi of Atalanta. In Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk they have goal threats that can turn the tide of a game as they have shown in the group stages against Holland and North Macedonia.
Malinovskyi is the midfield engine that drives the team forward. It dictates the tempo and is crucial to maintaining possession. With an ability to make skillful and quick passes, the 28-year-old creates the space for forwards Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk to shine. West Ham playmaker Yarmolenko is able to sprinkle some stardust with his left foot, while Zinchenko is also an attacking threat on the left.