Our football writers pick England's starting XI to beat Ukraine in Euro 2020 showdown

Football will be hoping to continue its journey home on Saturday night…

Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images )
Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images )

We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

England are just two games away from the final of a major international tournament, and the country is abuzz with cautious optimism.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Tuesday’s win over Germany looks to have ignited a spark under Gareth Southgate’s squad and convinced many doubters that yes, they are indeed contenders to go all the way in Euro 2020.

If the Three Lions are to realise that dream, however, there is the small matter of a quarter-final against Ukraine to contend with first.

After switching up his starting XI to great effect against the Germans in the last round, all eyes will be on Southgate’s team selection on Saturday, and what formation he sets his team out in.

As always, we’re more than happy to offer our opinion. After all, you never know where Gareth could be taking his inspiration from...

Here’s how our team of football writers would lineup in Rome...

Ross Gregory

(4-3-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Phillips, Mount; Sterling, Kane, Grealish.

Unleash the Grealish!

The clamour has been great this Euros for Jack Grealish to be handed more game time, and the quarter-final clash against Ukraine looks the perfect opportunity.

Ukraine are likely to sit back and try and hit England on the counter attack, meaning Grealish's quick feet and trickery could be crucial in the first hour, before the likes of Phil Foden (remember him??) and Jadon Sancho are used off the bench.

Elsewhere, it's a return to a back four and a three-man midfield. I'd love to get Jordan Henderson in somehow for his big-game experience, but with Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice playing so well together, it's Mason Mount who should get the nod to provide the creativity in the centre of the park.

Richie Boon

(4-2-3-1): Pickford; Walker, Maguire, Stones, Shaw; Henderson, Rice; Mount, Foden, Sterling; Kane.

Well, I never thought I'd be writing five of these! Seven would be ideal...

Like England, Ukraine stuck with a back four for the group stages, before switching to a more conservative three with wing-backs for the knock-outs.

While there is a slight risk in not matching up with Ukraine's likely formation, with an overlap always a threat, I think a four could work well for England and allow them to take the game to their opponents early on.

With both Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice a booking away from missing the semi-finals, I'd take a slightly maverick approach and play Rice for the first 45 minutes before, depending on the scoreline, bringing on Bellingham to replace him at the break.

There's a real clamour for Jack Grealish to start the game, but he's been a perfect impact sub so far - why would you change a winning formula? Instead, I'd bring Phil Foden in for Bukayo Saka, and slot Mason Mount back into the midfield for a bit of spark.

Jason Jones

(4-3-3): Pickford; James, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Phillips, Mount; Sterling, Kane, Grealish.

You would like to think that Gareth Southgate will show enough gumption to revert back to a back four and bring in another creative player in Rome.

By no means is this a game that England should take for granted, but equally, it is a clash that is there to be won, and a little bit more quality in the final third feels less like a luxury and more like a legitimate blueprint for outclassing Andriy Shevchenko’s men.

With that in mind, it could be time to reintroduce Mason Mount into the starting XI, allowing the Chelsea man to roam around in behind Harry Kane as he sees fit.

Elsewhere, Mount’s Stamford Bridge teammate Reece James could be a good shout to return to the side at right-back. He absolutely pocketed Oleksandr Zinchenko in the Champions League final, so why not trigger a couple of uncomfortable flashbacks for the Manchester City full-back by wheeling him out here?

Up top, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling are absolute musts after their heroics against Germany, but that game only really swung decisively in England’s favour when Jack Grealish was brought on.

I get the argument for him to be used as an impact sub, but honestly, just start him and let him run amok for the full 90 minutes.