Tarczynski Arena in Wroclaw, Poland, hosts an exciting 2024 European Championship qualifier between Ukraine and England on Saturday.
Despite heading into proceedings as qualifying Group C runners-up, Ukraine cannot afford to rest on their laurels if they’re to reach the Euro finals for the fourth time in a row.
After succumbing to a 2-0 defeat at Wembley Stadium in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier, Serhiy Rebrov’s men have recorded back-to-back wins over Malta and North Macedonia.
Ukraine needed two second-half penalties to overcome the Mediterranean minnows last time out.
Andriy Yarmolenko squandered the first before Viktor Tsygankov slotted home the second to secure a 1-0 win, helping his country to build on a sensational 3-2 comeback victory in Skopje.
While the Ukrainians still have plenty to do to book their ticket for next summer’s tournament, England already have one foot in Germany.
Gareth Southgate’s high-flyers boast a 100% record at the halfway stage of their qualifying campaign, winning all four Group C matches via an aggregate score of 15-1.
New Bayern Munich centre-forward Harry Kane has been unstoppable in the ongoing qualifying cycle, scoring in all four outings, including a brace in a 7-0 demolition of North Macedonia last time out.
However, Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka overshadowed the England skipper’s scoring exploits against the Lynxes, netting his first-ever hat-trick for the national team.
Since taking over the managerial reins in June, Rebrov has restored Ukraine’s mentality amid Russia’s invasion of their country, with his side showing great fortitude during his early regime.
In addition to fighting back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to beat North Macedonia 3-2 in their second Euro 2024 qualifier, the Ukrainians held Germany to a goal-glutted 3-3 friendly draw in June.
But they have historically struggled against England, as evidenced by their dismal return of a single win from nine all-time encounters against the Three Lions (D2, L6), courtesy of a 1-0 win in October 2009.
Since that success, they have gone winless in five consecutive meetings with the Euro 2020 runners-up (D2, L3), failing to get on the scoresheet on four occasions, including the last three on the trot.
England’s superior head-to-head record is not the only encouragement Southgate’s side can rely on in the build-up to this fixture, considering their free-scoring frontline has bagged 11 goals in their last two games.
Before the aforementioned humbling of North Macedonia on home soil, the Three Lions hammered Malta 4-0 on the road, scoring three times inside the opening 31 minutes.
Their stellar form in the front third has not come at the expense of their defensive duties, with England going over 300 minutes of play without conceding since a 2-1 win at Italy in March.
Conceding first may be the only thing to knock Soughgate’s team off their perch, given they have won none of their last six internationals after falling behind (D2, L4).
Dynamo Kyiv playmaker Mykola Shaparenko has joined Genoa attacking midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi on the sidelines, leaving Ukraine short of options in the final third.
Rebrov will probably trust Chelsea ace Mykhailo Mudryk to provide a spark alongside Yarmolenko, who’s only four goals short of overtaking Andriy Shevchenko as the country’s all-time top scorer.
As for England, Jack Grealish and Trent Alexander-Arnold have pulled out with injuries, joining Mason Mount, John Stones and Luke Shaw in the treatment room.
Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling will watch teammates Ben Chilwell, Levi Colwill and Conor Gallagher from the comforts of his home after failing to make Southgate’s squad despite a decent start in the Premier League.
Ukraine potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Andriy Lunin; Yukhym Konoplya, Illya Zabarnyi, Serhiy Krystov, Vitaliy Mykolenko; Taras Stepanenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Oleksnadr Zinchenko; Andriy Yarmolenko, Vladyslav Vanat, Viktor Tsygankov.
England potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, Marc Guehi, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell; Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson; Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford.
We Say: Ukraine 1-3 England
England utterly outclassed Ukraine in the reverse fixture a few months ago, although Rebrov’s side created several decent half-chances.
We can see the Ukrainians getting on the scoresheet, but the Three Lions should return from Poland with a landslide victory in the bag.
- Premier League wages: Man City & Man Utd stars top the salary charts
- Arsenal to offload fringe players in pursuit of Brentford’s Ivan Toney as Bees renew Barclays borrowing
- Women’s Super League 2023/24: Can anyone stop Chelsea winning five-in-a-row?
- Football agents in the UK stall FIFA’s salary cap regulations
- Chelsea monitoring Osimhen situation amid rift with Napoli