Cyprus Mail

England expects but Shevchenko’s Ukraine believe

euro 2020 round of 16 england v germany
England's Raheem Sterling celebrates after the goal against Germany

This time England expects.

Whereas Gareth Southgate’s team went into their last-16 tie with Germany amid relentless reminders of historic failures against their old rivals and the fear of yet another, they are simply expected to beat Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.

It is not only the media and fans in England, buoyed by Tuesday’s victory at Wembley, that makes the Three Lions clear favourites — any objective analysis of the two teams would reach the same conclusion.

England are ranked third in the world while Ukraine are 24th.

The average player value of the England team is 57.8 million euros — while Ukraine’s is 6.6 million euros.

England‘s captain Harry Kane is valued at over 100 million euros and Ukraine’s top player Oleksandr Zinchenko is worth less than a quarter of that amount.

In the group stage of the tournament, England were unbeaten and finished top of their group while Ukraine lost twice and finished third, the only team with three points to make it to the knockout stage. This is their first Euro quarter-final match while it will be England‘s sixth.

Ukraine have conceded six goals in their four matches while England have let in none and in seven meetings between the two nations, England have won four times and Ukraine just once.

“It’s pretty clear [that England are favourites] – you’ve seen them, the players they have, and the level they play at,” said Ukraine defender Mykola Matviyenko.

“So, yes, it will be difficult but I’ll say it again: anything is possible at this stage, and we believe,” he added.

While Southgate’s men go into this game still buzzing from the electric atmosphere at Wembley, Ukraine are also on a high after Artem Dovbyk’s header at the end of extra-time gave them a 2-1 win over Sweden.

The pressure is all on England for whom defeat would mean the tournament is viewed as a failure and they will leave their home turf for the Stadio Olimpico where the crowd will be smaller but probably backing their underdog opponents.

“This is a big challenge for us. We’ve got to go away from Wembley, to somewhere where there might not be many fans, it’s quite hot, and play an opponent where not many of their players are known to us,” Southgate said.

“And then there is this perception now that all we’ve got to do is turn up and we’re on our way. So there is total focus now on Saturday, we need to prepare the right way, and our mentality will be critical,” he added.

His counterpart, Andriy Shevchenko, is relishing the chance to take on England at a ground where he played against Roma and Lazio during his years as a prolific goalscorer with AC Milan.

“They are incredibly difficult to score against but their strength shouldn’t scare us,” he said.

“It should motivate us because everything is possible in football as in life and we will play our hearts out to give our fans even more to cheer about.”

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