To make the impossible things possible

Tuesday, November 1, 2022



Shakhtar head coach Igor Jovicevic on the upcoming meet with RB Leipzig and its importance

– Anatolii Trubin said before the match that current Shakhtar differ from the team one could have seen at the training camp in summer. What caused such changes, whose progress is the most noticeable?
– People also change throughout the life. If a person has ambitions to progress, it works the same way on the football pitch. I think that you need people to achieve high goals, it is even more important than just the footballers, people are above all. When there are tough matches, when the team have to face challenges, everything is decided only by the staff. You should have talent on this level, and all my players have it. Talent is multiplied by personality and this is converted into achieving of the high goals we are currently setting. No one has given even two percent that the Europa League would already be in our pocket before the round 6 three and a half months ago and we would compete for the Champions League Round of 16. We are building the team and we have a margin for a good project. It gives inspiration and spirit that we are able to win in every game against any opponent. I have repeatedly said already the first match vs RB Leipzig became game-changing for our team. This was the first Eurocup match and we did not know how good we were and neither did the opponent. We stepped it up every game in confidence, manoeuvres, resources, system, maintaining our playing style. We will try to demonstrate our spirit in tomorrow’s match as well to make the impossible things possible. Currently, if anyone can do it, it is us. I don’t like to emphasize the progress of someone individually, as for me, the entire team progressed. You – journalists and fans – can make an emotional decision on who progresses more and who progresses less. Someone implements his skills in goals, someone does it on playing with the ball, and someone is good in assists. The defenders have their role in stopping the opponent, the midfielders have to set the pace and rhythm of the game and someone makes difference in attack to reflect the ability of the team to achieve the result through the goals. If you play for the team, then you will always receive the help to make a hit. Today it is Mudryk, tomorrow it is Sudakov, then it is Zubkov. We are one team where everyone is fighting together.

– RB Leipzig changes their head coach after the first match. How can you rate the team play at the current manager and what do you expect from tomorrow's meet?
– Personally, I see this as a challenge. I look through characteristics of the rival coach before every head-to-head encounter, look at his playing style and try to understand what he wants to offer. Now we are talking about a great coach. Marco Rose is a top coach; he has been demonstrating his professional quality on the high level for a long time. Shakhtar fans also cannot forget the two-year encounter with Borussia Mönchengladbach and result thereof. His teams play very aggressively and intensively, although his formation changed a little bit currently. His play system causes problems, but I think tomorrow we will manage and demonstrate an excellent play. Sometimes even the excellence lacks something, but everyone of us has to be on the level to make it unforgettable playing for the Champions League Round of 16. Again, no one thought that we would be able to go even to the Europa League, but now it is already in our pocket. You want your dream to come true, but if it comes from your heart, then it is not even a dream because you want it so much that it has to become a reality.

– How does the staff situation in the team look like? Will the game against RB Leipzig be the most important in your career?
– We did not have such match in our career before, when we would have had the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16. Personally, I have not felt such tension yet, and neither have the others, except for some players. This ambition and sometimes uncertainty of the moment move you forward. We did a lot of work and will not be satisfied with what we have. There are 95 minutes left in the match with a great team that have scored 16 points from a possible 18 in their last matches, that show good and intense football winning over Real Madrid and opponents in the Bundesliga. Nkunku, Werner, Forsberg, all of them perform on an excellent level, so it is going to be a super challenge for us. Favourites do not always win in football, but we have many injuries and this is a fact. Shved and Zubkov are important players for our team and game model. Although, I think their absence will be covered by others with dignity and on the maximum level. I believe in the team and in the positive result.

– Are the team ready to lead in the second leg against RB Leipzig?
– The leader does not always win. The team win in case of complying with all four football segments and dominate during all 95 minutes. You can’t win within 15 minutes, you have to stick to the plan and believe in victory until the very end. If we want to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16, then we have to win tomorrow, and RB Leipzig would be satisfied with a draw. Sometime such scenario for the opponent imposes a psychological pressure because not everyone can play for draw. One goal can make a difference for us and can put everything on the line and change the game because of energy. This is why football is interesting, again: Shakhtar don’t have to lead to win the match. The first match against RB Leipzig proves it, because we scored four goals by counter-attacking with 39 percent of possession, but it could have been more. The same situation was with Real Madrid: we had 41 percent of possession, but everything looked like we had 60 percent. The game went on, we got away from Real Madrid’s pressing from defence. I want to see a team waiting for the game. When you have to endure defence shall act densely. RB Leipzig forces you to defend tightly because if you start pressing you will stretch the lines. You see who we play against. Nkunku and Werner cost 100 million each and it would be fatal for us to give them any space. We have to be on the ball which has led to the fact that we are thinking about advancing to the Champions League Round of 16. You should not deviate from your style, but we should be smart and read the chances when you need to keep the ball. Inly if we are able to read the game we will win.

– There are many young and talented players in your team.
– We need such persons to succeed. All challenges motivate us to become better and come on the field. This is the first experience and we are trying to be courageous, use our talents. First of all, we play for Ukraine. We show that we can play in every game. No one believed in us earlier and that is why I want to make all the impossible things possible.

– Two Shakhtar games in the UPL were postponed ahead of the previous UCL matches. The team played a difficult match against Oleksandria this time. How does it affect your preparation for RB Leipzig?
– We were under similar conditions with Oleksandria in the previous round. Air raid alert affected us equally and we do not make excuses. We have to draw conclusions to win in the next matches. Maybe the alert worked for us, because we got back into the match and equalized the game. There were enough chances before sending-off, but then the team had to show their will. Oleksandria are a good team and we have to admit it. I can personally say that no one would like to experience the air raid alert because you don't know what will happen next. There is an uncertainty and you think that now something might fall, but also there are thoughts in your head about tactics and how to beat the opponent. All Ukrainian teams are heroes now, just like Ukrainian soldiers. We play on the territory of Ukraine and fight. People who fight for our freedom are fans of our teams. All the representatives of the country in the Eurocups root for each other and I will feel the support of the entire country at tomorrow’s match. It is going to be the same at the match of Dnipro-1. We want all teams to win more and earn points for the common treasury. It is bad that Dynamo did not manage to give a result, however, when Dynamo play, we should all support them.

– Are you tired of constant trips? How does Shakhtar’s preparation for Eurocup matches look like?
– Of course, trips are exhausting because you simply don't have time for anything. Representatives of other teams have free time and you have a constant routine. This psychological factor is a little depressing. Tomorrow's match will be decisive, but then we have five more games. Tomorrow we will try to fight and do our best. There is no balance between physical and mental things because of moving. Situation is not that impressive for us, but we will fight anyway.