Ukraine manager Andriy Shevchenko has reacted furiously following a press conference where it was suggested some of his players are “unknowns”
“Unknown? Wait until you see who I’ve got in my XI,” said Shevchenko as rumours circulated that both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko could make a dramatic return to top-level sporting action in the biggest game in their countries football history.
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The former world heavyweight champions have reportedly put their post-boxing careers on temporary hold in a bid to protect their national football side from a pummelling in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
“They’ve never actually played professional football before,” a source close to the Ukrainian team said, “but I’m not going to tell them they’re sh*te, are you?”
England boss Gareth Southgate quashed rumours that Tyson Fury had been sounded out a possibly joining up with his squad in an effort to counter the Ukrainian additions.
“No, we haven’t asked Tyson to play with us – he’s just dropping by to sing Sweet Caroline for the squad. Should be better than Ed Sheeran anyway,” he said.
Shevchenko also confirmed that he’d “brought his boots” and could take on a player/manager role for this game, and the former Milan and Chelsea striker has also been on the phone to former strike partner, Sergiy Rebrov, about reuniting their deadly partnership for the game.
The diminutive striker is said to be “keen” on playing, and also eager to share his experiences of failure at Spurs with Harry Kane.
“I feel like he is a brother to me – we have a shared bond forged in pain of playing for this ‘Big Club'”, the now 47-year-old told Ukrainian television, even making the inverted commas hand gesture in a pre-match interview.
“Only another Spurs player can understand the suffering…” he continued, before breaking down in tears.
Other notable Ukrainians and Hollywood A-listers Mila Kunis and Milla Jovovich are also expected to join up with the squad in the next few hours to add steel and physical presence to their shaky backline.
Meanwhile, for England, Gareth Southgate is said to be considering a move to nine at the back to ensure opportunities for a “dangerous” Ukrainian side are kept at a minimum.
Following a historic 2-0 win over Germany in the previous round, Southgate has admitted he was left “disappointed” after seeing his side score a second goal, as it meant his players had clearly disobeyed his tactics of passing the ball sideways and backwards over and over again until everybody falls asleep.
Speaking to Paddy Power News, the well-spoken England manager outlined where he thinks the players need to improve and if his side can go all the way in the tournament.
“I think we can win it, but we need to be a bit more conservative,” he told us.
“I’m looking to bring Tyrone Mings and Reece James back into the side for Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka, just to ensure things are kept tight at the back.”
“We opted for eight defensive players against Germany, yet we still managed to score two goals, so I think by bringing in another defender, we have every chance of maintaining that side-to-side routine, going forwards less, creating less, and guaranteeing that 1-0 win from one Raheem shot on target.
“I’ve sent Jadon Sancho, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford back to their clubs as they don’t fit in with what I am trying to achieve with this group of players. They are all nice boys and top professionals, but they play too high up the pitch, with too much freedom and I can’t risk that type of rogue football in such an important fixture.”
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