Ukraine must play ‘best games of our lives’ to beat England admits Man City’s Zinchenko

England train ahead of Ukraine clash

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Oleksandr Zinchenko says that he and his Ukraine team-mates will have to play the best game of their lives if they are to have a chance of knocking England out of Euro 2020.

The Manchester City left-back often plays in midfield for his country and is one of the stars of the team.

But he accepts that as one of the smaller footballing nations left in the tournament, the shock have to get bigger and bigger if they are to continue to progress – not least against a side filled with his Premier League winning team-mates.

“We will try to surprise them but we understand to get through every player will probably have to play the best games of their lives,” he said.

“There are no perfect teams. Every team have weaknesses. Kyle Walker and John Stones had amazing seasons and it will not be easy but at this stage of the tournament anything is possible.

“Every footballer at this stage of the tournament has been through a very big journey.

“Before I get on the pitch I will be thinking about that journey I had to get here and will feel a lot of responsibility because every player represents his country and for me it is a massive honour to wear the kit.”

Zinchenko became a national hero when he reached the Champions League final last month but his boss Andriy Shevchenko recognises that the same can be said of seven of the England squad who played for Chelsea and City.

He knows English football better than most in Ukraine having spent three years himself at Stamford Bridge just over a decade ago.

But while he rates this as a purple period in the history of the English game, he feels the character of his players could still be enough to earn Ukraine a game at Wembley themselves for the semi-final.

“English football is in one of its best moments in its history,” Shevchenko said. “We saw the Champions League final with the speed of Chelsea and Man City. This will be our toughest game.

“We understand clearly what team we will be playing against, it is one of the best teams in the European Championship, one of the most balanced teams with some of the best players.

“The manager has gathered an amazing group that plays modern football.

“But we also know our strong side. We have shown our character and principles and will never change them.

“It is the basis of our team.

“I know our players have character and we will try to show it in this game.”

Probable Ukraine XI (5-3-2): Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Zinchenko; Sydorchuk, Stepanenko, Shaparenko; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk.

Possible England XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Phillips; Sterling, Mount, Foden; Kane.

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