|England's game against Ukraine looks easy on paper but will there be a shock result? (Photo credit: UEFA.com)|
“It’s coming home” was the slang we got used to at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England’s fairytale run that was truncated at the semifinals by Croatia was so scary most people thought it was going to happen, well it didn’t but they’re at it again.
England’s run at the current tournament hasn’t been anything special, scrappy 1-0 wins over the duo of Croatia and Czech Republic, sandwiched an uninspiring goalless draw against Scotland but against all odds, they stood firm against Germany and banished the ageless ghost that has always haunted them.
Forget England’s obsession for Germany, it was important to be honest for them to dust off the Euro 96 penalty shootout embarrassment which had Gareth Southgate’s name written all over it, and of course the Italia 90 World Cup, same story, different culprit.
Ukraine is the latest opponent to try England for size, on paper it looks very much like the 3Lions will have an easy ride to the final, like they had at the last World Cup, but football has a way of teaching us harsh lessons, don’t forget the number of mighty teams that have fallen so far.
Adriv Shevchenko will lead his team out on Saturday to entertain England, no real big names, no flair, just business on the pitch and a hope of luck, what should we expect?
Ukraine needed a last gasp header deep into the second half of extra time to beat Sweden but they had a man advantage which wasn’t really evident until a very late goal sent Sweden gnashing teeth after holding on for so long.
England will hope to win in regular time, they won’t want to risk the lottery of spot kicks which hasn’t favored them in recent past, maybe dating back to forever.
Italia 90 had Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle ruing misses, Gareth Southgate in 1996, Darrius Vassel in 2000, Jamie Carragher and his compatriots in 2006 at the World Cup hosted by Germany but the success over Colombia in Russia offers some hope.
How will they line up? Bukayo Saka is racing against fitness so expect Jack Grealish to start, Southgate’s stubbornness of playing double pivot limits creativity and in a game against a less ferocious side they should express themselves freely.
Ukraine will sit deep, no one expects them to take the fight to England, but since Harry Kane has gotten off the mark, is this the beginning of his rage upfront?