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Ukraine must stop ‘amazing’ Raheem Sterling in England Euros clash, says Man City team-mate Zinchenko

·3-min read
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Oleksandr Zinchenko has told Ukraine they should be motivated and not scared by the challenge of taking on England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 as he tries to plot a way to stop Manchester City team-mate Raheem Sterling.

Ukraine secured a showdown with England in Rome on Saturday after beating Sweden 2-1 in extra time at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

Andriy Shevchenko’s side go into the game as underdogs, with Zinchenko remarking that he thinks England’s substitutes’ bench costs about the same as the equivalent of three Ukrainian teams.

But the Man City defender has urged his Ukraine team-mates not to be intimidated by the task that awaits them this weekend.

“It is really difficult to score against England, they are really well organised,” said Zinchenko.

“They have a really good set of footballers and the substitute bench probably costs [the same] as three Ukrainian teams.

“This shouldn’t be really scary for us, this should motivate us. We need to give ourselves the highest aims, the highest goals, and I am sure that the coaching team will get the strategy for us.

“I sense myself that everything is possible in this life and we will do everything we can for it.

“I’ve watched pretty much all the games that England have played, except today because we were getting ready for our game.

“The first thing that I noticed is I know quite a lot of those players personally because I see them in the Premier League.”

Zinchenko opened the scoring for Ukraine on Tuesday, firing home Andriy Yarmolenko’s cute outside-of-the-boot pass in the 27th minute. They rode their luck after that, though, and Emil Forsberg hit the woodwork twice after equalising just before half-time.

The two sides were forced to play extra time, which will no doubt please England, and Sweden centre-back Marcus Danielson was then shown a red card for a high tackle on Artem Besedin.

That swung the game in Ukraine’s favour and Artem Dovbyk booked them a showdown with England by heading in Zinchenko’s cross in the 121st minute.

“England are a great team, they have a deep bench, an outstanding coaching staff and we are fully aware how tough this game is going to be,” said head coach Shevchenko.

Oleksandr Zinchenko plays alongside Raheem Sterling at Manchester City (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Oleksandr Zinchenko plays alongside Raheem Sterling at Manchester City (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“They are incredibly difficult to score against but their strength shouldn’t scare us. It should motivate us because everything is possible in football as in life and we will play our hearts out to give our fans even more to cheer about.”

Shevchenko will want to pick the brains of Zinchenko ahead of Saturday’s match, given he knows a number of the England team from Man City.

“Raheem Sterling is one of the best wingers in the world. Right now he is in amazing form,” said Zinchenko.

“He is great, he makes the difference. We obviously need to pay attention to him and we will need to try to somehow stop him because he’s on a roll now.

“Who is the strongest opponent that I have ever played? I have said several times that it’s the footballers from Manchester City, those that I see every day at training.”

Ukraine’s victory over Sweden secured a first ever quarter-final appearance at a European Championship and they celebrated with their jubilant fans at the full-time whistle.

Sweden’s players were heartbroken, but head coach Janne Andersson could not fault their effort.

“We were close to going through in this game and we had a good chance,” he said.

“If we did not perform well and lost, I would be p******, but I don’t think we did that. We fought for it.”

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