Taras Stepanenko: It’s important to play safe and with a cool head

Shakhtar’s midfielder has taken part in a press conference before the return match with Schalke.

- Everyone is talking about the fantastic atmosphere at the stadium in Gelsenkirchen, we have seen it ourselves 11 years ago. In this regard, what could you advise the players of your team who do not have much international experience?
- Each ones goes through the pressure of the public, and this is normal. In our team, all players have a strong character. They will cope with that. And the guys, who have the experience, must help and support the team-mates at the right time. I think everyone will cope with the psychological pressure.

- You have had a week for additional preparation. What has it given to you? In what component have you improved?
- We analysed all the errors and thoroughly watched the previous match. We discussed what was done well and bad. In the next match that should help. This is our second official match of the year. It is clear that in the first game there was certain nervousness and errors. Hopefully, in the second game we will avoid that.

- Are you aware that three key Shakhtar player won’t be available to take part in the game? Including in your area. Have you looked at it, including those whom you may face in your position?
- We do not know who will play. This is a matter of the opposition coaching staff. Nevertheless, we have information about every player of Schalke. We have studied all of them. For us, there should not be surprises regarding who will enter the field. We also have some players unavailable, but, nobody is complaining.

- After the first match, you mentioned that for it was important to keep a clean sheet. In Lviv, you have managed to do it. How important will it be to score first here? Were you geting ready for a penalty shoot-out?
- We were not get ready for a penalty shoot-out in a particular way. It is clear that any team that will score the first goal will have a psychological advantage over opponents. Of course, it would be great if we scored first and brought the match to a logical conclusion. Let's see how events will unfold on the field. Now it is important to play very well, safe and with a cool head, to commit as few errors as possible, and force the opponents to make mistakes.

- Taras, you have played the first official match without Teixeira and Fred. How has their absence been felt, and when can we expect a similar understanding with new team-mates?
- To achieve a similar understanding, we need a little time. Still, they are new and young players. Teixeira and Fred have slightly different attributes than, say, Kovalenko and Malyshev. So the game is built very differently and we must act very differently. We are ready for this. Nothing can be done about it, time goes on, we need to move forward. I think everything will be fine. The coaching staff brings to our attention how to act in these combinations. Over time, will have a more combinational game, and we will not feel the loss.

- Three recent visit of Shakhtar in Germany have been very unsuccessful. Borussia, Bayer and Bayern all you lost big with a total score of 0-14. Do these memories put pressure on you and your partners?
- Obviously, the statistics are not very good, but you always want to move forward and, as they say, change the tradition. These results should be remembered, in the sense that we have learned from these mistakes, I hope. We go forward to the fact that we finally need to win and achieve results. We want that very much. Hopefully tomorrow we will succeed. You can talk a lot, but only football field will show.
 

 

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