England v Ukraine: Euro 2024 qualifying – live | Euro 2024 qualifying

2 min read

Key events

Team news: Maddison starts

Foden out due to appendix surgery

But why won’t you pick him, Gareth.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of England v Ukraine at Wembley. We do not, dear reader, live in a world that celebrates quiet achievement. This is a golden age of English football, at club level and country, but you wouldn’t always know it from the persistently negative mood around the national team. Even a win away to the European champions on Thursday wasn’t enough for many of Twitter’s finest.

The subject has been done to death by more talented, more engaged and more patriotic writers than me, so we don’t need to go into it again. Let’s just agree that, if England don’t beat Ukraine handsomely today, a dreaded hashtag will probably be trending by sundown.

Gareth Southgate isn’t beyond reproach, far from it, but future generations will surely wonder what happened to the collective English noggin in the late 2010s and early 2020s. They might ask one or two question about the football team as well, honk honk.

Some of the more intense criticism of Southgate involves his reluctance to change personnel, whether it’s mid-game* or match to match, so it was a pleasant surprise to read in your superb soaraway Observer that James Maddison is likely to start today. What’s Gareth up to here? What’s his angle?

Kick off 5pm.

* A surprise, this, given that his inspiration Terry Venables made two decisive tactical changes at half-time against Scotland and Spain. Only one involved a change of personnel, but the point stands.