Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine is the next obstacle in England’s path for Euro 2020 glory as the two go head to head in Rome on Saturday.
Ukraine advanced to the quarters after a 2-1 extra time win over Sweden. Ironically, Sweden were the reason Ukraine made the knockout stage in the first place after the Swedes thrashed Poland to see Ukraine sneak into the round of 16 on goal difference as one of the best third-placed sides.
No favours were granted in the round of 16 as Sweden were eliminated.
England were in jubilant spirits after they came through their round of 16 tie against Germany unscathed. Raheem Sterling was a dominant figure throughout and opened the scoring late on before Harry Kane broke his duck and the Germans hearts with a late goal that put the contest beyond doubt.
Against Germany, Gareth Southgate put his critics to the side and lined up with a back three and two wing backs. In front of them sat Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips as further protectors for their goalline. With so many men behind the ball, it was clear that England would need Sterling to shine and he did.
But now the question remains, will England be bolder and revert to a 4-4-2 against a weaker opponent? Or will the magnitude and what is potential ahead of them mean that Southgate continues to play a counter attack game?
Bukayo Saka was impressive against Germany in patches but with Mason Mount now fully recovered from his spell in isolation, the Chelsea man could start.
Another factor that could force England into a rejigged lineup is the quartet that is one yellow card away from suspension.
All of Phil Foden, Harry Maguire, Phillips and Rice are in danger of missing the final four encounter should they pick up a yellow and the Three Lions prevail.
“We fully understand that England will be favourites, but we made it through so we’ll fight as long as we can. It looks like football these days can be very unpredictable, and we witnessed how Switzerland won against France, so anything can happen,” says Taras Stepanenko, the Ukraine midfielder.
“Our task is to believe we can win and keep going, and then destiny will decide the rest”.
The winners will face Czech Republic or Denmark in the semi-finals.
The match kicks off at 9pm.