Dubai: In their opening Euro 2024 qualifier, Gareth Southgate’s England triumphed over the reigning European champions Italy 2-1. With confidence high they next face Ukraine on Sunday in Group C at Wembley Stadium and will enter the match believing they can secure three vital points and take a big step towards qualification.
Their comeback win against Italy was a morale-booster following their heartbreak in the 2022 Qatar World Cup - and it was also sweet revenge for the Euro 2020 penalty heartache against the Azzurri.
Harry Kane’s history-making goal, his 54th for England, surpassed Wayne Rooney’s record of 53. The captain has been in impressive form for Tottenham with 21 goals this season and Ukraine’s defense will need to contain him to have a chance at securing a positive result.
Southgate will be without Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, and Nick Pope due to injuries, while Luke Shaw was sent off in the Italy game and is suspended so Ben Chilwell likely earn a runout at left-back. Jude Bellingham’s fitness will also need to be assessed but despite these setbacks, England’s attacking talent should give them the upper hand.
Ukraine’s £89 million man, Mykhailo Mudryk, will look to make an impact in his first game since moving to the Premier League with Chelsea. But, they will be without Ilya Zabarnyi and Oleksandr Zubkov due to injury, and former West Ham player Andriy Yarmolenko is also out.
Ukraine’s game plan will likely focus on being defensively solid and utilizing pace on the counter-attack. They must mark Kane closely to prevent him from changing the game with his impressive finishing ability.
Although Ukraine held England to draws in two of their last five meetings, England’s superior squad should see them through to another victory.