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.”
Southgate got it right, says Seaman
Meanwhile, former England goalkeeper David Seaman believes manager Gareth Southgate got his tactics “spot on” in Tuesday’s memorable victory over Germany.
England beat their old rivals in a tournament knockout game for the first time since 1966 as they reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win at Wembley.
Southgate attracted criticism by switching from a back four to a back five for the game, with the manager himself suggesting he would have been “dead” had things gone wrong.
But after victory was secured with second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and captain Harry Kane, Southgate’s decisions were fully vindicated.
Seaman, a team-mate of Southgate when England reached the semi-finals of Euro 96, felt the formation not only offered extra defensive reassurance when required, but provided an attacking option via the wing-backs.
Seaman told Sky Sports News: “I think that is what it was designed to do – not let them impose on us and make sure that we do push them back and it did work.
“I remember watching the second half and I could see Luke Shaw on the halfway line, or even in the Germany half, when the ball was down our end. I was thinking, ‘This can’t be right’ – but it was dead right. Gareth had got it spot on.
“It was great to see they got that formation right straight away. It’s all positive going forward, going into the next game against Ukraine.
Ukraine will be a ‘hard game’
“Now we’re all asking questions, will he play three or four at the back – we’ll just say, ‘We don’t care, you know what you’re doing Gareth, do what you want’.”
Seaman also says England must not underestimate Ukraine.
He said: “They looked strong, even in extra time. We have to be aware of that. We have to treat them with respect.
“It will be a hard game, no doubt about that, but if we play to our best I feel we have got enough to get us through to the semi-final.
“I feel there is more to come, that is the beauty of this England team and the squad, there is so much talent there that you always feel there is more to come.”