Ukraine will have to play ‘game of a life’ if they want to beat England, admits Oleksandr Zinchenko, Andriy Shevchenko’s men looking to pull off almighty upheaval to reach Euro 2020 semi-finals for the first time in their history
Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine must play the game of a life if they are to achieve a historic win over England in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
After reaching the 2018 World Cup and Nations League semi-finals the following year, Gareth Southgate is now looking to lead the Three Lions to a first European Championship semi-final since 1996.
England face a Ukrainian side looking to make history, after seeing their only appearance in the quarter-finals of a major tournament end in a 3-0 loss to Italy at the 2006 World Cup .
Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine needs the game of a life to beat England
Manchester City’s all-rounder Zinchenko is the biggest name in the Ukrainian squad and knows his side face an uphill battle against familiar faces at Stadio Olimpico.
“I will say the numbers speak for themselves,” he said of England. “The fact that England haven’t conceded a goal yet, they are playing very well in defense.
“But I think there are no perfect teams. Every team has weaknesses.
“As for (Kyle) Walker and (John) Stones, they have played an amazing season and over the last couple of years I have played with them, they play at a very high level.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions steal Euro after beating Germany 2-0 on Tuesday
Southgate is now looking to lead the Three Lions to a first Euro semi-final since 1996
‘It won’t be easy. We know it. But at this point in the tournament anything is possible and I think the coaching staff will explain to us what to do with it and we will do our best.
“We’re going to try to surprise them, but of course we realize that in order to get through all the players and the whole team, they will probably have to play the best game of their life.”
Zinchenko echoed the sentiments of manager Andriy Shevchenko – the former Dynamo Kiev, AC Milan and Chelsea forward.
“We clearly understand which team we will be playing against tomorrow,” said Ukraine’s head coach. “I think it’s one of the best teams.
Zinchenko knows his team face an uphill battle against familiar faces in Rome
“At this Euro, it is one of the most balanced teams. They have amazing players and I would like to take note of the work of the head coach, my colleague Gareth Southgate, who indeed has put together an amazing group and the team is playing modern football.
“I think England are currently having one of the best times in their history.
“English football is on the rise. We saw an incredible Champions League, Man City and Chelsea final – how fast they were, how they performed.
‘Tomorrow [Saturday] will be the most difficult game for us with a very strong opponent. ‘
Shevchenko has cleared West Ham winger Andriy Yarmolenko for the quarter-finals and is keeping an eye on the progress of Oleksandr Zubkov, who trained individually before the game.
England face a Ukrainian side looking to make history after reaching the last eight
Ukraine reached this stage by beating Sweden 10 2-1 in overtime at Hampden Park on Tuesday, after being the third lowest-ranked team to advance to the group stage.
“We fully understand which team we will be playing against, but we also know our strong team,” added Shevchenko.
“We have already shown our character in this tournament, we have shown the principles of our game and we will never change them and, first of all, it is the basis of our team.
“I know how difficult this game will be for us, but I know our players have character and we will try to show it tomorrow.”