Taras Stepanenko: I wouldn’t say we got easy opponents

In the Futbol LIVE programme, Shakhtar midfielder shared his impression of the Champions League draw.

- Frankly speaking, of all the opponents we might get, I know the least about Rapid. Names wise, we haven’t got the most prominent opponents; unfortunately, I cannot say anything about their current performance. But I think everything will get clearer when Mister introduces us to the opponents in theory sessions. Nevertheless, they are a disciplined Austrian team with great dedication. How many times we played in training camps against the clubs of this country – we always found it difficult. Therefore, I wouldn’t say that we got easy opponents.

- Experts agree that style wise Rapid are very convenient opponents for Shakhtar. Shakhtar’s “romantic football style”, as Sergei Morozov put it, can bring them success against these very opponents. So the draw result is optimum ...
- Again, among those teams we might get Rapid seems to be the opponent we should outplay ... But I will never say so in my lifetime, because we have great respect for all our opponents. And, when we specifically get ready for the games against the Austrians, I will be able to say what kind of team they are and how to play them. We know that the order can beat class. Therefore, we will have tough encounters.

- Experts have noted that your previous opponents, Fenerbahce are stronger than Rapid both in terms of names and player selection. On the other hand, they were saying that today's Shakhtar are able to get prepared to take them on. What you’ve just said about the respect for the opponents, just confirms that. How does victory over the Turks inspire the team, give them self-confidence even after selling two key players?
- It was a good test for us. Mister said that those who survive this confrontation are likely to play in the group stage. So for us it is good psychologically that we’ve managed to make it past Fenerbahce - in terms of testing how we would feel without the players who left. But these games have shown that the team can play without them, that the team is up and running. That we are really one team, and not just separate individuals. So I hope that we will continue to play the same way, with the same dedication and the same requirements to ourselves. So we will be very seriously preparing for the games against Rapid.

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