By beating Germany, England may have dispatched of their biggest threat on the road to the final of Euro 2020 – but they will still have to be at their best if they are to get past Ukraine in the quarter-final.
Led by the iconic Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine fought their way past fan-favourites Sweden to get to this point in the competition – having emerged from Group C as one of the four best third-place finishers.
The two meet in Rome on Saturday night, with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions heavy favourites to progress in the eyes of just about anybody you may care to ask. But overlook Ukraine at your peril, as they have plenty of players capable of causing real problems for an England side who are only just getting themselves going this summer.
Here’s 90min’s run through of who to keep an eye on.
There’s a good chance you’ll have seen Mykola Matvienko’s name pop up in a transfer rumour or two over the past few years.
The 25-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk centre-back is an excellent, technically gifted defender who fits in perfectly in the modern game. A lot of big teams have scouted Matvienko and will continue to do so once this tournament comes to an end.
Alongside fellow young defender Ilya Zabarnyi (a rumoured Chelsea target you also need to watch out for), Ukraine have an incredibly solid defence who will make life hard for Harry Kane.
England fans might think they know about Oleksandr Zinchenko, but the Man City version of him and the Ukraine version of him are two very different people.
Deployed in midfield instead of left-back, Zinchenko is tasked with being the hub of his national team. You’ll see him driving forward just as often as you’ll see him hounding opponents out of possession. He does it all.
Coming in to the quarter-finals, Zinchenko has made more tackles (15) than any other player at the tournament, so expect him to be a real problem in midfield.
Ruslan Malinovskyi will have wished that the 2020/21 season never came to an end.
As the creator-in-chief at Atalanta, the 28-year-old was in outrageous form in the last few weeks of the campaign. In the final 11 games, Malinovskyi racked up a ridiculous six goals and nine assists.
He usually plays as a central midfielder but has been deployed as a left winger at times this summer, so everyone in England’s defence will have to be prepared.
Injuries and poor form have seen Andriy Yarmolenko become anonymous at West Ham over the past few years, but he has rediscovered his best form this summer on the international stage.
A right winger who sometimes plays up top, Yarmolenko’s bread-and-butter is cutting in on his left foot and firing home a worldie. He did it to perfection against the Netherlands and has continued to torment defenders all across the continent.
This isn’t the same player who has struggled in the Premier League over the past few years, and England would be wise to remember that.
One of the best strikers outside Europe’s top five leagues, Roman Yaremchuk is a towering forward who bagged 17 goals in 28 games for Belgian side Gent last season.
Yaremchuk is a similar player to Kane in that he enjoys dropping deep to involve himself in the build-up just as much as he likes putting the ball in the back of the net. He’ll be dragging defenders all around the pitch if he gets his way.
The Gent man is far more agile than his frame might suggest, and he’s also pretty lethal in front of goal. A tough proposition, that’s for sure.