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Key matches to watch for Ukraine vs England

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On the brink of a second consecutive semi-final appearance at a major tournament, England are preparing to face Ukraine in the quarterfinals of Euro 2020 in Rome on Saturday.

The Three Lions defeated their former adversary Germany 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament with goals from Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

Andriy Shevchenko became a national hero once again as Ukraine advanced to the quarter-finals with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Sweden.

As it will surely be an intriguing contest in Rome, FootTheBall has identified three key clashes that could be crucial in deciding the match between Ukraine and England.

ANDRIY YARMOLENKO AGAINST LUKE SHAW

Andriy Yarmolenko has been turning back the clock with his performances for Ukraine at Euro 2020. This campaign, he made just one Premier League start with West Ham, came off the bench 14 times and was an unused substitute on several occasions. He did not score a goal in the league this season, and his only goals were against lower league opponents in cup tournaments.

However, your lousy domestic campaign only adds fuel to your inner fire and serves as a motivation for him excel in your national threads as you always have. With 4 goal contributions (2G, 2A) in 4 matches, the 31-year-old is keen to prove a point. With 42 goals for Ukraine, he is the second top scorer in the history of the country, behind only his coach, Andriy Shevchenko, who has 48. He will be determined to close the deficit in his next matches, starting with England. However, it will take a lot of work because he will face Luke Shaw, who has been in great shape.

After a tremendous domestic season that focused more on redemption than anything else for Luke Shaw, he has brought that form to the Euros. It was evident in his performance against Germany, as he put on one of the best individual displays of the tournament.

With the body of a roadrunner and the soul of a winger, Luke Shaw is one of the best wingers in the world. It has a unique combination of technical and physical characteristics. His change of pace, even while standing still, and the speed of his feet are unmatched. He is very creative with his dribbles, regardless of where or on what stage he receives the ball. Against Ukraine, he will hope to contain Yarmolenko, as they will surely intersect in most cases.

MYKOLA MATVIYENKO VS HARRY KANE

Mykola Matviyenko has been possibly one of the best center-backs of the tournament, if not the best. He has been Andriy Shevchenko’s most reliable man in the rear. He is authoritative at 6 feet, but excels more through his tactical intelligence. It thrives high online and in open spaces, where it has to leave its zone and follow its brand.

(Courtesy: Twitter / Ukraine)

Matviyenko is super explosive and agile in 1v1s against dynamic attackers, and is always well positioned, never loses focus and has a great personality. In possession, it is neat and has all the basics. He doesn’t take many risks with his short passes or the ball carry, but he is precise and confident with both, as evidenced by his 90% passing accuracy at Euro 2020. Although he will have his toughest challenge of the tournament when he meets Harry Kane.

Harry Kane has had a turbulent couple of months. The forward has not brought his best game to Euro 2020 after another dismal season with Tottenham, where he once again failed to win the silver medal and all the postseason turmoil. Although he scored against Germany, opening his Euro 2020 scoring account, he didn’t really have the most impressive outing.

Yet when shooting at full throttle, the 27-year-old is a threat to opposing defenses, capable of scoring at will. Mobility and pinpoint precision is what English is best known for. He leaves the area to offer support, leaves the ball to the midfielders or wings, gives continuity to the game and brings the whole team together with his passes. He excels in an exquisite and fast double, as well as in incredibly well thought out judgments. Still unable to make a mark on the tournament, the striker that we will be determined to achieve, but stands in his way is the Ukrainian wall in Matviyenko.

OLEKSANDR ZINCHENKO VS RAHEEM STERLING

The winner of Ukraine’s match in their round of 16 match against Sweden, Oleksandr Zinchenko dazzled with his brilliant display. Scoring and assisting in both goals for Ukraine, as well as putting out an outstanding performance in all respects, he greatly helped his country advance to the quarterfinals.

He is an energetic and fast footballer who plays with the necessary character to fit perfectly in such an electric team. Zinchenko spends most of his time in the opponent’s half and uses a lot in possession. He is a creative passer with the calm and courage typical of a midfielder on the ball. It is an extra weapon in attack with its penetrating passes and precise crosses. However, he will take a more defensive stance against England as he will be tasked with containing a fit Raheem Sterling.

Raheem Sterling has undoubtedly silenced all of his critics for now with his fantastic match-winning performances of late. With 3 of England’s 4 goals coming from his feet, the Manchester City winger has been shooting full blast.

It stands out in interior areas; the narrower the spaces, the better. Outside of the ball, his mobility is superior. From the left wing, he moves invisibly and stealthily, attacking the gap between the center and the wing. He can stay open, but when he comes in, he makes quick touches, carries the ball and makes off-the-ball runs that drive defenders crazy. Against Ukraine, he will aim to replicate his recent efforts, which have been pivotal for the Three Lions.

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