Ukraine head coach Andriy Shevchenko warned his side will have to be on top form to beat Euro 2020 minnows North Macedonia on Thursday.
It is a must-win game for Shevchenko’s side in Bucharest after they lost their opening Group C match 3-2 against Holland in Amsterdam on Sunday after fighting back from 2-0 down.
Former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Shevchenko told a press conference: “First of all, we need to play our best game.
“We have our worked-out playing pattern and much will depend on our midfield – how they will move and how they will move the ball, the speed and precision of their passes.
“We are a team that loves to attack. Being clinical will be the key tomorrow.”
North Macedonia, competing in their first major tournament, lost their opening game 3-1 against Austria, but Shevchenko is expecting a big reaction.
“This is a team that deserves respect,” he said. “They have character, they have outstanding leaders and a well-established playing system.
“They almost always play 5-3-2 and like to counter-attack. They are good fighters as well. So we don’t expect any gifts from them tomorrow.”
Ukraine midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko also envisages a tough encounter following advice from Manchester City team-mate Ilkay Gundogan.
He said: “I spoke to my Manchester City team-mate Gundogan about North Macedonia because they beat Germany 2-1 away a couple of months ago. He said, ‘Trust me, this team are trying to play good football.’
“(North Macedonia) are a great team. On the pitch, they are like family.
“They definitely don’t have the same kind of players as Holland, but they are very strong as a team. They are very well organised defensively and it’s very difficult to score against them.”
North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski told a press conference his side would play without fear in their bid to progress from the group.
He said: “We came to the Euros to reach the round of 16. Whoever wins this match will improve their chances to advance. We are not feeling any pressure, we are motivated, and we will play to win.”