– Ruslan, you are a very experienced player. You have seen a lot over your career. What do you think are the reasons for Ukraine’s unsuccessful performance at Euro 2016?
– You know, I do not really want to answer this question because I am not the person who has to analyse these reasons. It is a job for journalists and the coaching staff. I am a player and I have to take responsibility for the team’s lack of success. I am part of it. I will probably reach some conclusion myself, but not now as it is a very hot and emotional time for us. Everything is boiling inside of me. So, I do not want to speak about it now.
– Did you experience a big personal shock in the Northern Ireland match?
– Sure, it was a big shock because nobody expected such an outcome. I personally thought that we would score one goal at least. We all expected to win. Northern Ireland gave all their strength and ability to achieve that result. That’s what we didn’t manage to do.
– In the game against Germany, you had enough good moments, but you could not capitalise on them. In the game against Northern Ireland, you were lacking a creative approach. Can you explain the reason? Why were you not creative enough?
– In a way, maybe the game against Germany played an evil trick on us because we played quite well and had some good opportunities, but we didn’t score. So we thought that it would be much easier to play Northern Ireland. But Euro 2016 is showing us that every single team is not only fighting for every single point, but also for every yard on the pitch and they want to be in control and dominate the field.
– What lessons should the Ukrainian national team and every individual player learn?
– We have already been taught a lesson. And we should have learnt from it by the next game. Maybe first of all it is about maximum commitment. We should not forget about the strong qualities that we showed in qualifying, namely maximum commitment, a friendly team. We need to remember what we are fighting for. Of course for the result. Skills are important too.
– Have you had any positive moments in this tournament based on which it is possible to build the next team for the upcoming series of games or do you need to classify this tournament as a nightmare and start from scratch?
– Well, you know, we don’t have to forget such a tournament. Of course, it will stay in our memory, as it is the European Championship. And, believe me, for many guys it will be an experience. Unfortunately, not a great one, but still an experience. These matches will serve as a lesson for our young players. And this is a good and positive thing. If every player keeps this experience in mind, it won’t happen again.
– It is more or less clear about the mood in the team. How about the spirit? In what spirits are Ukraine approaching the game against Poland?
– Well… Right after the game we weren’t in the best spirits… We felt unhappy and each of us has tasted defeat before, so we know what it’s like. It’s not a pleasant feeling. But I think that the sooner we forget about these defeats, the better. And it will have a better impact on the next game.
– Many people expect some squad rotation. Are you personally ready to take to the pitch and show that Ukraine know how to play good football?
– Well, there are 22-23 players in the squad now and all of us have to be ready to play. We have all been ready during every game. We have to prepare now and support the team as strongly as we can, whoever is going to be on the pitch. In the end it’s the team who win. Or lose, of course.
– What targets can Ukraine have for the match, taking into account that you are not motivated in terms of the competition any more?
– Well, you know, after these two defeats, the main thing for us is to play for our honour. We have to fight for it.
– What do you remember about Poland from the two previous games in World Cup qualifiers? You featured in both of them. What do you remember?
– It was a quite pleasant experience. I remember that before the first game in Poland we had a target which was to win. We had to win, we couldn’t draw, because a draw would eliminate our chances of progressing further. We managed to overcome that hurdle with dignity – we beat Poland away, after that we beat them at home in another decisive match. Perhaps the main factors were our play as a team and hunger for results. We had the aim of reaching the play-offs and we managed it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t progress any further, but that is another story.
– How much has the Polish national team changed since that time? What are its main features nowadays?
– Well, you know, I don’t think the team has changed a lot. But the players have got used to playing with each other, improved their skills and thus, of course, the team has developed. You can notice that now, if we compare this team and that one. We have also watched a lot of games from their qualification campaign, where they played against Germany and their games here, at the EURO. If we could call them an average team before, now their level is definitely above average. They show their teeth, everybody saw that in their game against Germany.
– Still, speaking about their playing qualities, what are their strengths?
– They are strong due to collective play. Of course, they have remarkable leaders, but they still play for the team.
– Speaking about leaders, the team’s main star is Robert Lewandowski. What do you think about him?
– He is definitely one of the top strikers in the world. He can do everything: perhaps, the most important attribute is that he is a great goalscorer; but I have to admit that, bearing in mind his high status, he works for the team and gives his best on the pitch.
– Speaking about other remarkable players in the Poland team, who else would you single out?
– Of course, I have to single out Piszczek, I like Błaszczykowski’s play too – he is also one of the team’s leaders. I like Milik as well. In general, it’s no use picking out names, because they are strong as a team, above all.
– Is it fair to expect Ukraine to play with a different style, compared to the two previous games? Maybe a bit more aggressive and attractive, to make the fans happy?
– Of course, we are obliged to do that. We have no other option. We have to understand now, that, however hard it may be, we must do everything possible. There are games where we play for the result and there are those where we have to play for our honour.
– It is clear that Ukraine’s failure disappointed the supporters, but a lot of them are still going to come to Marseille. What reaction do you expect from fans at the stadium?
– We have received quite a lot of criticism in recent days which is understandable. It is clear and normal that we are praised when the team wins and we are criticised when we lose. Every sportsman has experienced situations like that. In these situations you need to stay calm, and this is what we need now. We have got into a situation, which could have happened to anybody, and any national team, as we can see from experience. So, everything is normal, we have to forget it and think about our future victories.
– What kind of support do you expect from supporters in Marseille?
– I am sure our supporters will not give up on us. They will come to the game and support us, that is for sure.