In the sixth matchday of qualifying Group 4 for the 2019 UEFA European U21 Championship, Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21s play host to Oleksandr Holovko’s Ukraine U21s in a top of the Group clash which promises to be a memorable one.
The Young Lions head into the fixture off the back of a run of five consecutive victories which was extended in the Cyrille Regis International with Romania on Saturday evening, while the Young Men were last in action in mid-November 2017, defeating Scotland away from home, the hosts are firm favourites for this one.
The qualifying encounter is set to take place tonight (Tuesday 27 March 2018), with a kick-off time of 6 PM GMT and live television coverage being provided by BT Sport in the United Kingdom on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport 4K UHD.
However, there will be no live radio coverage being provided by any stations in the UK, but you can catch all of the build-up and reaction throughout today and tomorrow right here on ByFarTheGreatestTeam, the England senior team are also playing on the night against Italy at Wembley.
The visit of the Ukrainians will be hosted by the domestic home of Sky Bet Championship side Sheffield United, the oldest professional football stadium in the world, Bramall Lane.
The Lane has a capacity of 32,702 but a record attendance well into the 60,000s, having its capacity significantly reduced when it changed to an all-seater stadium in the early 1990s.
Opening all the way back in 1855, the venue’s early days were dominated by cricket acting as the home ground of Yorkshire for over 100 years and even hosting an England test along the way, before football took centre-stage and the cricket pavilion was demolished in the 1980s.
Tonight will be the first ever time that the young Ukrainians have visited the stadium, which was the sight of the Young Lion’s second ever International match, and the hosts’ themselves first outing at the ground since defeating Scotland in August 2013.
Home boss Boothroyd decided to call upon two fresh faces for his latest squad with exciting defender Ryan Sessegnon progressing through the ranks up to the U21s and Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria getting his first nod too.
Late on Friday night, there was another edition in young Wolverhampton Wanderers shot-stopper Harry Burgoyne being drafted in on a precautionary basis given that Angus Gunn and Freddie Woodman are both nursing knocks, Everton man Mason Holgate, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks and Manchester City’s Jack Harrison were forced to pull out with ankle injuries, Dominic Solanke could captain the team as opposed to Saturday’s skipper Demarai Gray.
Whereas, visiting manager Holovko will travel to England with one of the strongest squads available to him for the matchup, though he has recently lost Sky Blue Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has been involved in his club’s Premier League title push this season, to the men’s senior team.
Nevertheless, there will still be plenty of players that can cause the Young Lions a problem or two and are expected to make the starting Xl, these include names such as captain Pavlo Lukyanchuk, he will be keen to make up for his own-goal in the last meeting of these two.
The national Under-21 teams of England and Ukraine have faced off with each other on the competitive International stage just twice since their formations in the period between 1985 and 1995.
One of those came at a major tournament, the EURO 2011 competition in Denmark where they met in the group stages to play out a rather uninspiring goalless draw, neither of them advanced out of that stage that year.
In terms of recent form, the Three Lions have maintained a 100% record over their last five matches stretching back to September 2017, the visitors have endured more of a mixed bag in that time, winning and drawing two and losing one.
Last time out, the second International between the two, in November 2017, Boothroyd’s men triumphed 0-2 thanks to a strike from Solanke and a Lukyanchuk own-goal and in a qualifier that was played at the Obolon Arena in chilly Kiev, Ukraine.
The England U21 national team was formed in 1976 and ironically, played its first International against Wales at a certain stadium in the Midlands, Molineux where they defeated the Romanians in their last match, drawing 0-0.
Since then they have tasted competitive glory twice, lifting the European U21 Championship twice in 1982 and 1984, and finishing runners-up in 2009, at the last tournament, they were respectfully third.
Notable products of the English youth system to appear from the team include such names as Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and more recently Harry Kane, while famous managers of the like of Stuart Pearce, Graham Taylor and current senior boss Gareth Southgate have come and gone.
Nowadays, under former Premier League gaffer with Watford Boothroyd, they top their qualification group for the U21 EUROs and have not been defeated yet in this qualifying campaign, they are expected to qualify comfortably and head into Italy and San Marino as one of the favourites.
Forming in 1992 after Ukraine gained independence from the fall of the Soviet Union, the U21 bracket of the Ukrainian national team has endured an up and down existence so far.
The highlight of the 26 years to date was surely making the final of the 2006 European U21 Championship, losing out to Netherlands and only ever qualifying again once, failing to reach the knockouts in the 2011 tournament.
However, the limited amount of successes over the years has not stopped the team and the youth system it belongs to from producing some fine footballing talent, the likes of Serhiy Rebrov, legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko, current senior manager, and more recently starlet Zinchenko are evidence of that.
Nowadays, under former Ukraine International Holovko, the nation are pushing hard to qualify for the next European Championship in 2019 in Italy and San Marino, in Group 4, they are only second to England and sit just five points off their lead.
So, now that the Bramall Lane scene has been well and truly set for an exciting evening of EURO 2019 qualifying action, can the Young Lions tighten their grip on qualification to Italy and San Marino?
Or will the visiting Ukrainians cause a shock in Yorkshire to put pressure on their opponents at the summit of Group 4? Cutting their lead to two-points? Think you know? Be sure to head over to @ByFarBlog on Twitter to send us your late score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.