England put two past the Germans in the round of sixteen in historic circumstances at Wembley whilst, after extra time, Ukraine saw off Sweden. Southgate’s tactical execution was second-to-none and he overwhelmed the opponents, but can he do it again? England are now heavily favourited to reach the final but it would be remiss of me to write off Ukraine, so here are the players we need to watch out for…
Shakhtar Donetsk shot-stopper Andriy Pyatov has long since been the Ukrainian number one and effectively so too, but at 37 he no longer holds the gloves. Georgiy Bushchan has leap-frogged him in the pecking order and has looked very solid to date in the Euros. Looking at the fact they conceded three to the Dutch obviously counts against him on the surface, but even in that 3-2 loss he made some big saves. Sweden with eleven and then ten men posed a threat to his goal but to no avail, will he be able to deny Kane, Sterling and co from finding the back of the net?
With Manchester City, Oleksandr Zinchenko primarily operates as a left-back but it is here that this is not his optimal position. When he takes the step sideways to his national team where he is more integral, he plays a fascinating role in midfield that allows him a large amount of freedom. It was the Man City man who opened the scoring in Sweden vs Ukraine as he rounded off a neat team move with a rocket of a finish. It took until the late stages of extra time for a winning goal to be found, Zinchenko looked good throughout and has done in all of the games too!
From one midfield man to another but this Atalanta star is less in the spotlight than his international teammate. Gasperini’s side are heavily represented at this major tournament and that is true under the legendary Andriy Shevchenko in the form of Ruslan Malinovskyi. From Gosens to Pessina, Miranchuk to Maehle, there are all showing their brilliance on this huge stage and the same goes for Malinovskyi. He didn’t start against the Swedes but he brings a perfect blend of creativity and solidity, all being well he is a nailed on starter for club and country.
Finally then to someone in the final third, and it’s not Andriy Yarmolenko! The West Ham man is excellent for his country and has continued to be so this summer, but the man alongside him is equally as effective. Roman Yaremchuk plays his club football for Gent and after having scored in the first two group games, there are rumours swirling that he may have a more lucrative future on the table. The link-up between Yaremchuk and Yarmolenko is evident and could cause England some real problems, Germany may have been let down by a lack of chemistry but it seems improbable that this record-breaking Ukraine side could fall at the same hurdle.