Gareth Southgate Given Selection Dilemma in Naming Team to Face Ukraine
Three Lions Boss May Be Forced Into Making Changes
The Three Lions travel to Italy to take on Ukraine in their first match of Euro 2020 away from Wembley Stadium.
Gareth Southgate’s team enters the fixture full of confidence following a 2-0 victory over Germany on June 28 – their first knock-out win over their nemesis since 1966.
Ukraine, meanwhile, had to wait until stoppage time in extra time before netting a winning goal against Sweden in their Round of 16 clash.
Oleksandr Zinchenko put Ukraine ahead before a deflected effort from Emil Forsberg levelled the tie before half-time.
Sweden had Marcus Danielson sent off following a VAR review in extra time and Artem Dovbyk provided a last gasp winner to send Ukraine through.
Raheem Sterling scored his third goal of the competition to open the scoring in midweek before Harry Kane broke his poor run of form in front of goal by heading home a second deep into the second half.
Gareth Southgate surprised many England fans by opting for a defensive trio and midfield five for the clash with Germany, but he may return to his familiar back-four for the trip to Italy.
Speaking to the FA’s England Podcast, Southgate explained his change in tactical system was in order to reduce the impact of Germany’s wing-backs Josh Kimmich and Robin Gosens.
He said: “We had to nullify some of their strengths. We weren’t perfect but we were very, very good.
“Once we started to get that aggressive pressure on and use the ball well, then we were a threat.”
A return to a defensive four in Southgate’s team would allow for another creative player to return to the starting eleven as England look to dominate possession against Ukraine.
It may allow Mason Mount to return to the squad following his 10-day isolation period; Phil Foden will also be hopeful of a start having been reduced to substitute appearances in recent matches.
Another dilemma Southgate faces is whether to protect his players from a potential suspension should they reach the semi-finals.
Single cautions are rescinded after the quarter-final stage and, as a result, Harry Maguire, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Foden could all miss the semi-finals at Wembley should they be booked against Ukraine and England win.
Southgate may, therefore, turn to Jordan Henderson to start his first game in the tournament and protect one of Rice and Phillips in defensive midfield.