Having overcome historic rivals Germany in the last-16, facing Ukraine might seem like an easier proposition for England.
Turns out, though, that Saturday’s quarter-final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome might be England’s toughest test of the European Championship. That’s because it’s the only match of Euro 2020 that England will have to play away from the friendly confines of Wembley Stadium.
With head coach Andriy Shevchenko schooled at AC Milan and Mauro Tassotti as his assistant, expect an old-fashioned Italian "catenaccio" (lockdown defense) and counterattack approach from Ukraine to deal with England’s front line.
So, with that in mind, we have asked out writers to pick who they would like to see face the Ukrainians, especially bearing in mind that four of the England squad are on yellow cards.
Gareth Southgate has some big calls to make. Harry Maguire is on a yellow card but – also – playing Tuesday, Saturday and then (hopefully) a Wednesday semi-final might be tricky given he has only just recovered from injury. Kalvin Phillips is also on a caution and has played every minute so maybe he shares the load with Declan Rice (also on a yellow). If Kieran Trippier’s hamstring is tight he should be rested. Phil Foden is also on a yellow. Mason Mount = if Trippier and Foden do not play – is needed for set-pieces.
Jason Burt’s England XI to face Ukraine
Give Declan Rice a rest with his yellow card and ideally Kalvin Phillips too at the soonest opportunity. Phil Foden in a central position. Jack Grealish to pick the lock. England should have lots of the ball in Rome and there must be opportunities to get Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham on the pitch too.
Sam Wallace’s England XI to face Ukraine
Jack Grealish has to start after his huge impact against Germany, with Bukayo Saka to be used as the impact substitute due to his pace. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips displayed admirable resolve against Germany to play for so long on yellow cards, but I would put Jordan Henderson in for this game, with the Yorkshire Pirlo making way.
John Percy’s England XI to face Ukraine
Would risk three of the four on bookings. No harm in sticking with what’s worked, especially at the back. Harry Maguire, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips off for Tyrone Mings, Jordan Henderson and Jude Bellingham at some point, hopefully when leading. Jack Grealish in from the start to provide more invention against a side that will sit back.
Thom Gibbs’ England XI to face Ukraine
Declan Rice is just one yellow card away from a ban, so I would use this as an opportunity to give Jordan Henderson a chance from the start. England should have plenty of the ball and Henderson is more inventive in his passing than the West Ham United midfielder. Rice will be needed for the semi-final, provided England get there, and can be called upon if Gareth Southgate’s side have a lead to protect against Ukraine.
More creativity is required in the final third, so I would include both Jack Grealish and Mason Mount in a flexible attacking three, along with Raheem Sterling, behind Harry Kane. Let them float around the final third, creating plenty of space and goalscoring opportunities for Kane.
Sam Dean’s England XI to face Ukraine
Ukraine looked least comfortable against Sweden’s agile and inventive Emil Forsberg so are unlikely to relish the prospect of Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden behind Harry Kane. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips are two of four players who are bookings away from a potential semi-final suspension so perhaps there would be value in resting one and playing Jude Bellingham or Jordan Henderson.
James Ducker’s England XI to face Ukraine
With both deep midfielders a booking from suspension, the risk of losing both is too great. It’s advisable to give Jordan Henderson his first start of the tournament now rather than in a semi-final, if England get through. Jack Grealish deserves to play. Trippier is a safer choice at left back and his set-piece delivery adds an attacking threat.
Ukraine particle – Chris Bascombe
Returning to 4-3-3 gets Mason Mount back in the team following isolation and he plays an important role linking the midfield and attack. I would find a way for Jack Grealish to get in the team, even though Gareth Southgate disagrees
Ukraine particle – Mike McGrath
It is always tempting to stick with the team that has just won such a big game, but Ukraine offers a different sort of challenge and Declan Rice has had a yellow card and was limping late on against Germany. This allows some fresh legs to come into the side and adds an attacking/creative player, with Jack Grealish also in from the start.
Luke Edwards’ England XI to face Ukraine
It’s time to unleash Phil Foden and get him on the ball in a deeper, more central position to help unlock the Ukraine defence. Plus, I’d start all four players who are on bookings because the strength and depth in the squad is so strong, we shouldn’t worry about that.
Tom Garry’s England XI to face Ukraine
Don’t change a winning team. Except against Ukraine in the Euros quarter-final. The attacking responsibility will be with England so now is time to unleash creativity. Gareth Southgate clearly knows what he is doing. But a bit of risk would indulge us all.
Jim White’s England XI to face Ukraine
HAVE YOUR SAY…
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Pick your England team to face Ukraine