Ukraine midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi believes the pressure will be all on England in Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final clash in Rome.
Ukraine, who lost two of their group games, pulled off a shock to reach the last eight with a last-gasp extra-time victory over Sweden on Tuesday.
An England side packed with Premier League talent will be the clear favourites in the Italian capital on Saturday but Malinovskyi says that is the way Ukraine would prefer it.
The 28-year-old Atalanta player said: “It is nice to be in this position, that England are favourites. It gives more pressure to them, not us.
“We were a little bit disappointed after the (group) game against Austria and we showed a good reaction against Sweden. Of course it gives us some confidence for the game against England.
“We saw a lot of results that we didn’t expect from the other teams – Switzerland and Czech Republic (beating France and Holland respectively).
“It showed in this tournament anything is possible, every team can win. This makes football more beautiful, I think.
“We need to come to this game against England in a good mood. We will have a great atmosphere and it will be a fantastic game for us.”
Neither side will have any travelling supporters in the 16,000 crowd due to coroanvirus restrictions but a number of tickets have been put on general sale and could be bought by fans already based in Italy.
After being impressed by the support for the team at games so far in the tournament, Malinovskyi hopes for another good turnout in Rome.
“A lot of people live in Italy and I am sure a lot of people will come to support us,” he said at a press conference. “We felt it in the other games in Bucharest and, even when we played Scotland, they came to support us.
“This gives something for us to go faster, be stronger. Mentally, the tournament has already had a long preparation but it gives us something for us to push more and be focused.”
Malinovskyi believes the team’s performances have brought comfort to people back home and that in turn is providing extra motivation.
“We play not just for ourselves but we play for the whole country,” he said. “We have not so good things in our country with the war and, with Covid, a lot of people lost their jobs.
“With the results what we gave, what we can give, it is – in little bits – like peaceful for the people of Ukraine.”
Striker Roman Yaremchuk is confident Ukraine can trouble England.
Yaremchuk said: “We take only confidence from the game against Sweden, good emotions. We have only a good mood and we have had a lot of time for recovery.
“Now in the next round every game is like a final and, for sure, we will have the chance to show something special against England.”