"We have a young, confident team that is hungry for great victories. We will see its real potential in the final part of Euro 2020, " these words of an assistant coach of the national team, Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, became the leitmotif of this year's Parimatch Expert Club meeting. Experts analyzed the successful Euro 2020 qualifying and tried to look into the near future of the national team.
Parimatch Expert Club is a new format for the football information space. Leading coaches, players, functionaries and journalists meet and discuss current events and problems of national football. In 2019, Expert Club meetings were dedicated to Ukraine's Euro 2020 qualifiers. The meetings were held in Kyiv, Lviv, and Dnipro. Besides discussions in the club, journalists also participate in prediction contests. The winners, of course, receive prizes.
"I congratulate our team on the successful completion of the year. The season turned out to be truly phenomenal. For the first time, we made it to the European Championship from the first place in the qualifying group and had no losses during the year. I think our Expert Club has also contributed to this success. We had interesting discussions, a meaningful exchange of views. We are confident that we will continue our common cause next year," Parimatch representative Vadym Misiura while opening a meeting at Champion Hall of Parkovy Exhibition Center.
"We will believe that our cooperation with Parimatch has become a fortune for the national team," First Vice President of the Ukrainian Association of Football Oleh Protasov said. In his opinion, the country's main team showed a great result. But the main thing is that the team showed good play and everyone is happy to go to the training camp.
The national team's media officer and the meeting's moderator, Oleksandr Hlyvynsky, mentioned all national team matches this year. The key players of the qualifying round were commented on by Shakhtar Donetsk players Andriy Pyatov and Taras Stepanenko and Dynamo Kyiv player Oleksandr Karavayev.
A representative of the coaching staff, Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, also joined the conversation. "We have chosen the right direction for development. Not everything worked immediately, but gradually the guys heard everything we asked them to do and the national team built the game we wanted. Mutual understanding on the pitch has improved, and the team has had its own face," Shevchenko's assistant said.
The team successfully started in Euro 2020 qualifiers, having played out a goalless draw with current European champions Portugal and having beaten Luxembourg 2-1 away. "We held back Ronaldo, and against a backdrop of fatigue and a bad pitch, we won a difficult victory in Luxembourg. Those matches showed that this team has character whereas last-minute goals later became our new brand," Oleksandr Karavayev said.
The decisive factor in the qualifying round was the two June victories in Lviv over Serbia (5-0) and Luxembourg (1-0). "The main component of those victories is that we were very well prepared for the matches. For example, the coaching staff thoroughly studied the game of the Serbian national team, and the players were able to implement the plan on the field. I will also mention incredible support from the stands in Lviv and we will get all the factors that helped us get six points," Shovkovskiy said.
Regarding the home 2-1 win over Portugal, according to Shovkovskiy, coaches managed to confuse the opponent with unexpected decisions. For example, Ukraine forward Yaremchuk moved to the left flank, and Marlos began to play in the center. At the same time, even with one man down, the Ukrainians confidently controlled the ball and this was in a match against one of the world's strongest teams.
Ukraine has already qualified for Euro 2020 and numerous journalists were interested in the mood and tasks of the national team at this prestigious tournament. "I think we will need to use the experience of an unsuccessful Euro 2016. We have analyzed those mistakes, so we know how to avoid them," said Stepanenko, for whom this will be the second European Championship in his career.
"I have a feeling that success is waiting for us at Euro 2020. At least we will definitely qualify from the group. What is the strength of the current national team? First of all, these are our coaches. They created a great atmosphere in the team, managed to bring together skilled football players and made us play high-quality modern football," Pyatov said.
"What are the tasks for Euro 2020? Wait, let's first fully enjoy our success," Shovkovskiy said, answering an expected question from journalists. According to him, it is necessary to first analyze in detail the performance of the national team this year and then start preparations for the final tournament. Only in the course of preparation will it be clear what this team really claims.
Sviatoslav Vasylyk, Kyiv
Photo credit: Parimatch
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