A closer look at Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine ahead of England showdown

England have travelled to Rome for their Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine on Saturday.

Andriy Shevchenko’s side reached the last eight with a 2-1 extra-time victory against Sweden.

Here, the PA news agency puts the focus on Ukraine ahead of their clash with England at the Stadio Olimpico.

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Shevchenko’s side qualified for Euro 2020 by finishing top of their group ahead of holders Portugal, while a Nations League win at home to Spain and a 1-1 draw against world champions France in the last 12 months shows they are a capable team. Prior to their victory against Sweden, Ukraine’s only win in the group stage was a 2-1 success against North Macedonia sandwiched between defeats to Holland and Austria.

Coach

Andriy Shevchenko has guided Ukraine into the quarter-finals for the first time
Andriy Shevchenko has guided Ukraine into the quarter-finals for the first time (AP Photo/Andy Buchanan, Pool)

Shevchenko was a prolific goalscorer as a player and the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner was appointed to his first coaching role following Ukraine’s disastrous Euro 2016 campaign, which saw them 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 team have since found a balance between defensive solidity and attacking creativity – making history by reaching the knockout stages of the European Championship for the first time.

Tactics

Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko (centre) is a key figure in the Ukraine side
Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko (centre) is a key figure in the Ukraine side (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Shevchenko mainly uses a 4-3-3 formation but a system with three central defenders is also an option. Ukraine’s gameplan is built around two creative midfielders – Oleksandr Zinchenko, who plays as an attacking full-back for Manchester City, and Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi. In Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk, they have goal threats who can turn the tide of a game as they showed in the group stages against Holland and North Macedonia.

Key men

West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko will hope to drive Ukraine forward
West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko will hope to drive Ukraine forward (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Malinovskyi is the engine in midfield that drives the team forward. He dictates the tempo and is crucial for retaining possession. With an ability to make skilful, quick passes, the 28-year-old creates the space for forwards Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk to shine. West Ham playmaker Yarmolenko is capable of sprinkling a little stardust on proceedings with his left foot, while Zinchenko is also an attacking threat down the left.