Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Sweden v Ukraine: Shevchenko´s men have ´nothing to lose´ as they seek first Euros quarter-final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Jun 2021

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Andriy Shevchenko insists Ukraine have “nothing to lose” against Sweden as his side aim to reach the European Championship quarter-finals for the first time.

Ukraine’s only previous appearance in the knockout stages of a major competition came at the 2006 World Cup when eliminating Switzerland before losing to Italy in the last eight.

The Eastern European nation hardly boast the best of records at the Euros, either, having lost seven of their last eight games.

However, a 2-1 win over North Macedonia, bookended by defeats to the Netherlands and Austria, proved enough for Ukraine to progress as one of the best third-placed sides.

Sweden await at Hampden Park on Tuesday and head coach Shevchenko believes his players can be proud whatever the result in Glasgow.

“We have travelled a long way to be here. We have achieved the result we wanted and have nothing to lose now,” he said. “Everything else will be a big bonus for us.

“I think we played a good group stage. We played well against the Dutch and we put in a good performance against North Macedonia. Austria were very strong opponents. 

“But Sweden are well prepared tactically and have good individual players.”

Sweden topped a group containing Spain, Poland and Slovakia to reach the knockouts of the Euros for a third time, having made it to the 1992 semi-finals and quarter-finals in 2004.

Despite coming through a difficult group with seven points from nine, Sweden boss Janne Andersson is taking nothing for granted against Ukraine.

“They are a good team; they know how to switch from defence to attack,” he said. “They looked worn out against Austria, but like us they’ve had some rest – even more actually.

“After the last game I gathered the players and told them I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world than in that room with them.”

KEY PLAYERS

Sweden – Emil Forsberg 

The RB Leipzig man has been one of the star performers of Euro 2020 so far, scoring the only goal against Slovakia from the penalty spot before netting twice against Poland.

It has been quite the turnaround for the 29-year-old, who has now scored four goals in his last four games for Sweden, following a previous run of 11 games without a goal.

Forsberg could yet write his name in Swedish football folklore, with Kennet Andersson (five) and Martin Dahlin (four) the only players to score more than three goals for the country in a single major tournament, both doing so at the 1994 World Cup.

Ukraine – Andriy Yarmolenko

West Ham forward Yarmolenko scored twice and assisted another during the group stage, including a 25-yard goal of the tournament contender in the 3-2 loss to the Netherlands.

No Ukraine player has ever been involved in more goals than Yarmolenko at a major tournament, level with team-mate Roman Yaremchuk, who has also played a big part in his side’s progression to the last 16.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– This will be the fifth meeting between Sweden and Ukraine, with Sweden’s only victory coming in a friendly in August 2011 (D1 L2).

– The last meeting between Sweden and Ukraine was at Euro 2012, with Ukraine coming from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a brace from current manager Shevchenko.

– Of the teams to reach the last 16 at Euro 2020, no side faced more shots on target in the group stages than Ukraine (16, level with Wales).

– Sweden made the fewest successful passes (591) and had the lowest passing accuracy (69.9 per cent) of any side in the group stages at Euro 2020. Of the teams to reach the last 16, they also had the lowest average possession rate (29.6 per cent).

– Sweden scored with 44 per cent of their shots on target in the group stages of Euro 2020 (4/9), with only Portugal having a higher such ratio of teams to reach the last 16 (50 per cent – 7/14).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

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