Sparrow: In Leipzig, Matvienko, Taylor, and Stepanenko played great for Shakhtar

Sparrow: In Leipzig, Matvienko, Taylor, and Stepanenko played great for Shakhtar

Ex-forward of the Ukrainian national team – about the Pitmen’s victory in the opening match of the Champions League group stage

Famous footballer of Donetsk Shakhtar in the past Andrey Sparrow commented on the first game of Shakhtar in the current Champions League, assessing the actions of Mudrik and Shved, and also told what is the football difference between Traore and Sikan.

— Andriy, we all know what problems Shakhtar is currently experiencing. Almost all legionnaires left the team. The Orange-and-Blacks lost 0-5 to Roma in a sparring, the team had a very difficult start to the season in the UPL. What were your thoughts before the Pitmen’s start in the UEFA Champions League?

– Of course, before the starting whistle of the referee, I did not have much optimism. Nobody understood what to expect from Shakhtar. Basically, this is a young team, while it is still unplayed. All this was disquieting. On the other hand, we were confronted by Leipzig. richest club. Back in May, they played in the semi-finals of the Europa League, won the German Cup. Of course, we all knew that they had problems at the start of the new season in the Bundesliga. Having seen the match, I will say that I expected more from the German team.

— What was the most important thing for Shakhtar in the last game?

– Tolerate. It was necessary to act carefully in every moment. Yes, the hosts were constantly attacking, and the load on our defense was decent. Luck accompanied the Ukrainian team that evening. You know, it often happens that luck comes to those who are more willing to win. I believe that the Donetsk team had more desire to win.

The first and second goal of the Swede were scored in a good scenario for us. And only then the German team opened up and it became easier to score in counterattacks. There are fast players in Shakhtar, the same Mudryk, Petryak and several of their attacks were very dangerous. These guys can run away.

– Were you surprised by the appearance of Konoply and Zubkov as a forward as a left-back?

– If Konopol plays constantly, in Lviv, against Rukh he acted in this position, then Zubkov’s exit, honestly, surprised me. There are questions about his actions on the football field. But I liked Yefim Konoplya. Yes, in a missed ball, he pulled out to the center and lost his vizivi. Other than that, he played well.

I will say that the exit of the Swede was unexpected. He has been on the team for only five days, as he is. I believe that Igor Jovičević was based on guys who have experience playing in European competitions or European championships. Zubkov played in Ferencváros in the Champions League, while Shved has already played in the championships of Spain, Scotland and Belgium. Yes, young people in the person of Sudakov, Konopoli and Bondarenko are just making their debut in the Champions League and they need experienced players nearby.

Marjan Shved, photo – Getty Images

Leipzig’s best player Christopher Nkunku is worth 80 million euros. And this is more expensive than the entire squad of Shakhtar. How did you manage to deal with him, because last year he scored 35 goals in the Bundesliga and the Champions League?

– It is clear that very serious players are gathered in the Leipzig squad. Football players from all over the world play there, it is a top club by name. Nkunku is a serious master. But, something is happening inside the team now.

Already before the match, they said that Tedesco would soon be fired. We see that after the game, Leipzig management fired Tedesco. As for Nkunku, perhaps they want to sell him for more than 80 million euros.

– Andrey, do you think the first goal of the Shved turned the course of the whole match?

– Such an episode is rare – once in a million. The goalkeeper at this moment closed. What did he want to do? It was evident how the German players were set up – they flew onto the field from the locker room after the break. Soon they evened the score.

But the second goal, I think, finished them off completely. How long has it been since the score was tied? Minute. The Swede struck, then two rebounds and the ball into the goal of Gulachi. After that, the Leipzig players were psychologically broken.

– UEFA named Marjan Shved as Man of the Match. Do you agree with this verdict?

— Probably, yes. Still, he scored two goals on the road, in such an important meeting.

– And how do you like the game of Mikhail Mudrik?

— Not everything is so clear-cut here. On the one hand, he has a goal + two assists. On the other hand, he did not help much when playing defensively. Cannabis was often left alone against two opponents. The same Swede was more useful in defense.

– Who, in your opinion, was Shakhtar’s best player in this match?

– Usually fans pay more attention to those who are ahead, who score. They look less at defense. But Matvienko, Taylor, and Stepanenko played great in Leipzig. These players need to be commended.

– Of course. Of the 12 shots on Shakhtar’s goal, only two hit Trubin’s goal…

– That’s what I’m talking about. In the first half, Nkunku had a good moment, and in the second half there was already a solid bulk, a lot of standards at the miners’ goal.

– It is quite rare to see major victories of Ukrainian teams in the group stage of the Champions League. Shakhtar is not PSG or Manchester City. The last one was dated 2015, when they defeated Malmö – 4:0. Surprised by this score?

– Of course. Big victories we succeed on big holidays. The more pleasant it is.

— In the last game, Shakhtar’s players made 4 shots on target and scored 4 goals. Where does this implementation come from?

– Yes, there was a little sharpness at the Gulachi gate. And the Donetsk side deserved their goals with their attitude and good luck.

– Will such a victory give strength and confidence to our players?

– Undoubtedly. It’s always nice to start with a win. And they scored points, and earned almost 3 million euros for the victory. Yes, and in the table of coefficients we need to improve our performance. But, ahead of the Celtic. This is a very strong opponent. Celtic are the champions of Scotland, who simply tear everyone apart in their championship. Yes, and with Leipzig, in the return game, it will be much more difficult. Euphoria must be put aside. But, today, Shakhtar’s players have accomplished a feat.

– Last year, under De Zerbi, the Pitmen bought new players for 48 million euros and scored only 2 points in the Champions League group, scoring two goals. And here is the contrast…

I don’t want to make any comparisons. So far, we haven’t achieved anything. Only after 3-4 rounds can any conclusions be drawn. The only thing, I’m glad that now mostly Ukrainian players play in Shakhtar’s roster. And many of them are pupils of the Miner’s Academy. But, without high-quality foreign players in the Champions League, you will not achieve success.

– How do you like the game of Traore, who returned to action after a serious injury?

It looks like he needs time. For now, it’s heavy. He is a little afraid to get into a fight. Perhaps he needs 2-4 weeks and he will be in full readiness. However, the scoring instinct remained with him. So we saw the difference between Traore and Zubkov with Sikan. Traore does everything right, like a player. He is a real striker. His actions show that Shakhtar has a valuable offensive asset. He knows how to score and that’s the most important thing.

– Is it possible to look at the standings or is it too early?

“You really don’t need to look at it right now. It’s too early to draw conclusions.

Source: Sportarena

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