Shevchenko Set For Ukraine's Biggest Game

HAMBURG, Germany -- Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko knows he and his team are preparing for the biggest match in their fledgling nation's history when they take on Italy in the World Cup quarter-finals, tonight.

Shevchenko celebrates victory in second round.

The 29-year-old striker, who left AC Milan last month for Chelsea in a £31million deal, will have extra responsibilities again in Hamburg on Friday thanks to the injury which has ruled Andriy Voronin out of the rest of the tournament.

Shevchenko is nonetheless looking forward to a match against a team which will contain many of his former Milan team-mates.

"The Italy team is full of talent, and some of them are my former comrades," said the 2004 European footballer of the year.

"I spent seven marvellous years in Italy and I owe the country a lot - but now we are playing against them in what is the most important fixture in the history of Ukraine."

Shevchenko is happy for Ukraine to wear the mantle of underdogs in their first World Cup since breaking from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukraine and Portugal are the only two teams of the eight quarter-finalists never to have won a World Cup.

"Italy must be favourites," said Shevchenko.

"But what we have to do is stick together as a team and as a unit and play with all our hearts to compensate for our weaknesses."

The loss of Voronin is a big blow for Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin, another former European footballer of the year who won the prize in 1975 during the Soviet era.

However, the veteran coach has better news in defence where he will be able to welcome back suspended pair Andriy Rusol and Vyacheslav Sviderskyi and the injured Vladimir Yezerskyi for a match which will earn the victors a semi-final against Germany or Argentina.

Source: PA Sport

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