Good opponents

Monday, November 7, 2022



Shakhtar head coach Igor Jovicevic shared his thoughts regarding the opponents in the UEFA Europa League play-offs

– Igor, what was your reaction to the results of the draw, where Shakhtar got the French Rennes?
– We got good opponents who showed themselves in the Europa League group. Especially, in two matches against Dynamo Kyiv, where Rennes beat them twice. They are currently in the third spot in the strong French league, so we can talk about very qualified opponents for whom we have the utmost respect. However, we have to pay attention to the fact that we are Shakhtar. We will fight until the end and we think big. We still have time to prepare. Currently, we are focused on the UPL, where we want to earn maximum points in four remaining rounds. And we will have enough time to prepare well before the matches against Rennes. After watching the draw, I got the impression that Rennes representatives were not indifferent either seeing Shakhtar. We showed what we are capable of and I am sure that they also feel respect for our team.

– As you have said before, Rennes are familiar to Ukrainian fans from matches against Dynamo. Did you see the opponents in these games?
– Of course, you follow not the teams against which you don’t play, but mostly Ukrainian clubs and root for them when they play in the European Cups. And we focused our attention in these matches mostly on the way Dynamo play, but not Rennes. However, I know one footballer of the French team very well, this is Lovro Majer. When I was the coach of Dynamo Zagreb I worked with him. Now he is the star of Rennes: the entire play goes through him and he is a key player. So it will also be a challenge for him and for me. It will be interesting to play against Lovro, because he is a great footballer which he has shown during this season in France. He is a key player in the entire championship and European clubs have an interest in him today.

– Shakhtar will play the first math at home. Does it matter where to start – at home or away?
– Each of us, coaches and team, want to play in free Kyiv, Lviv, in Ukraine, where the fans would be able to come and support us. However, today’s situation makes us think about home matches in Warsaw. You must be focused on the game, we cannot change anything here. We have the training camp ahead, so there will be time to prepare for this first play-off round. I think a very difficult match is waiting for us. But, I say it again, we are Shakhtar and we will fight until the end.