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Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine should be motivated rather than frightened to be facing talent-filled England in the European Championship quarter-finals.
All eyes will be on the Stadio Olimpico in Rome this Saturday evening when the Three Lions take on Andriy Shevchenko’s side for a place in the Euro 2020 semi-finals at Wembley.
England secured an unforgettable 2-0 win against Germany to progress to the quarter-finals, which Ukraine reached with their last-gasp 2-1 extra-time triumph against 10-man Sweden on Tuesday.
Zinchenko opened the scoring at Hampden Park and the versatile Manchester City player is up for the challenge presented by familiar faces.
“I watched almost all of their matches at the Euros except for (Germany),” he said. “I know many players of the team personally thanks to the matches in the Premier League.
“It is very difficult to score for this team, it is a great team with a fantastic selection of performers.
“If you look at their bench, there are players worth, probably, like three national teams of Ukraine.
“But this should not frighten us, but rather motivate us. I have already felt that everything in this life is real. I will personally do my best to achieve the result in the next game.”
Among the players Ukraine need to stop is City team-mate Sterling, who took his Euros goal tally to three in four appearances when opening the scoring against Germany.
“Raheem is in great shape,” Zinchenko said. “He is the player who makes a difference on the field. Of course, we should pay attention to it and try to restrain it.”
Ukraine are through to just their second-ever major tournament quarter-final, having lost at this stage to Italy in the 2006 World Cup.
“We can celebrate the victory because we are writing history,” Zinchenko added. “The whole country deserved such a result.
“The team also deserved it – the coaching staff, which chose the tactics and made a plan for the game, and the players who put it into practice.
“But from (Wednesday) we need to think about the next opponent England.
“This team demonstrates excellent football at the tournament and is generally considered one of the best national teams in the world.
“We will do everything in our power to move on to the next stage.”