The day has finally arrived. England take on Ukraine this evening in the quarter-finals of the European Championships in Rome.
Gareth Southgate’s side impressed last time out, defeating Germany 2-0 in a strong performance. England’s defence has remained consistently excellent throughout the tournament while their attack has stuttered at times.
The England manager is expected to make some changes to the side that were victorious at Wembley. As first reported by Telegraph Sport, Southgate could revert from the back five deployed in the last-16 to a back four – the formation England utilised during the group stages.
Bukayo Saka, who has impressed with his willingness to drive at defenders with the ball at his feet, is carrying a slight knock and may have to step down from the starting line-up. This could present an opportunity for the skilful Jadon Sancho who has barely featured in the tournament so far, much to the surprise of the German public who have watched him regularly for Borussia Dortmund.
Mason Mount could return to the line-up, following a spell in self-isolation after the Scotland game.
One factor that Southgate could consider is that four of his squad – Harry Maguire, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden – are one yellow card away from missing the semi-final, should England get there. However, the England manager categorically denied that would influence selection.
“I understand the strategy of thinking that through, but I don’t think there is a team in the world who would do that at this point,” said Southgate. “I have never seen it happen and it is not in our thinking. It would be a bad message for our players and it would be the wrong message for Ukraine. I don’t think we can fiddle around. It would be just about thinking about the future and we should not be thinking about the future at this moment.
“We have been to three semi-finals in 60 years, the thought that we can be resting players to get through a semi-final – I can’t think of a nation that would do that. I don’t remember a nation doing that. It was different in the group phase when we had qualified and knew what we were dealing with. We could strategically do that.”
England are strong favourites tonight but Ukraine have showed plenty of determination and created moments of real quality to get them to this point.
Stay with Telegraph Sport for build-up to kick-off and live updates of all the action from Rome.