Soccer-Ukraine must match Sweden in the air, says Shevchenko

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Euro 2020 - Group C - Ukraine v Austria
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GLASGOW (Reuters) - Ukraine must gear up for aerial battles and find a way to contain a physical Swedish strike force if they are to reach their maiden European Championship quarter-final, coach Andriy Shevchenko said on Monday.

While Ukraine's four goals in the tournament have been shared equally by strike duo Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk, their opponents boast a wealth of goalscoring options thriving on long balls.

Swedish centre forwards Robin Quaison and Alexander Isak have been well supported by Emil Forsberg and Sebastian Larsson on the flanks, but Shevchenko is hoping to reverse that trend and urged his defenders to take control of the box.

"We have to be very cautious at set pieces because Sweden make great use of them," former Ukraine striker Shevchenko told reporters ahead of Tuesday's last-16 clash at Glasgow's Hampden Park.

"It will also be very important to win second balls. There will be a lot of battles on the pitch.

"They have two great strikers, and are very strong physically so rarely lose one-on-one battles. We must be ready for any scenario."

Ukraine qualified for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams from the group stage.

They were well below par in their final group game, a 1-0 defeat by Austria, but Shevchenko believes the pressure is off now his players have progressed to the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time since the 2006 World Cup.

"We achieved the result we wanted," Shevchenko said.

"Now we have a game to improve and we'll do everything we can to achieve a positive result."

The coach also confirmed winger Oleksandr Zubkov has failed to recover from a calf injury he sustained in their opening match against the Netherlands.

"Zubkov is still with us but he's going through a rehab. It wouldn't be right to talk about it right now. He won't be ready for the game," Shevchenko added.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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