Lucky Losers Ukraine Can’t Halt England’s Progress

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With a place in the European Championship semi-finals up for grabs, England and Ukraine get set to do battle in Rome on Saturday night.

England skipper Harry Kane will look to build on his goal against Germany.

England head to Rome to shackle a Ukraine side who only scraped into the knockout stage as the fourth-best third-placed team.

Wembley went wild on Tuesday night when England battled past international nemesis Germany, carding a 2-0 win that saw Gareth Southgate’s men assume European Championship favouritism at 2/1.

It wasn’t the prettiest performance from England – indeed none of their four games to date have been easy on the eye – but they are getting stronger and stronger and have to fancy their chances against a Ukraine side who toiled for two hours to see off Sweden in Glasgow on the same night.

Of the current England squad, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling are the only survivors from the last time these countries met, a 0-0 draw in Kiev in September 2013 in a qualifier for the following year’s World Cup. A year earlier at Wembley in the same qualifying campaign, these two nations drew again, on that occasion 1-1.

Ukraine to Struggle to Break Down Lions

England are boring their way through the bottom half of the draw at the Euros – of the 16 teams to have played four matches at these finals, Southgate’s side have fired off the fewest efforts, just 27 in total. Italy, in comparison, have unloaded 87. Minnows North Macedonia managed more than England (32) in just three matches.

Southgate is sacrificing style for success and it appears to be working which means a fourth win to nil in five games at 21/20 is hard to dispute.

England are the only team at these finals to have kept clean sheets in every match and chances for the opposition are few and far between.

Ukraine came into the finals quietly optimistic having beaten Spain and drawn with France over the last 12 months, but they were played off the park by Holland in their opener and poor against Austria in their final group game. They lost that match 1-0, finished third with a minus goal difference, and scraped into the round-of-16.

They found it hard work troubling a well-organised Sweden rearguard on Tuesday night, helped eventually by the Swedes going down to ten men. And they’ll find Harry Maguire’s well-drilled back unit even harder to unlock.

Stones A Threat Against Shaky Defence

Ukraine have not kept a clean sheet so far and they will offer up chances. Teenage centre-back Ilya Zabarnyi looks a really good prospect but this is a major test for the 18-year-old Chelsea target.

The pockets of space that the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish find, means defences get stretched. The Dutch did that to Ukraine and England will.

And that should mean corners and free-kicks being conceded. Ukraine gave up 19 corners in their three group games which is an awful lot and against England that would spell serious danger given the threat posed by the likes of Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and, of course, John Stones.

Stones has already seen one header from a corner come back off a post in this tournament and at the end of a season which saw him net five times from centre-back, the Manchester City stopper represents a fair anytime scorer pick at 9/1.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Steve Davies is an occasional contributor to the MansionBet Blog. He holds a keen interest in many sports, with Darts taking the first position.

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