Soccer-Ukraine approach Euro opener versus Dutch with respect, says manager

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Ukraine Training - Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands - June 12, 2021 Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko during training REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Ukraine manager Andriy Shevchenko said on Saturday his team would try to strike the right balance between attack and defence in their opening Euro 2020 match against a dynamic Netherlands side whose talent needed to be respected.

"They show good results on the European level. This is a team we respect," Shevchenko told reporters a day before Ukraine face the Netherlands in Amsterdam. "We are ready for them."

Ukraine, ranked 24th in the world, face a rejuvenated Dutch side, ranked 16th, that is returning to a major tournament after missing the last Euros in France and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"Soccer requires striking the right balance between attack and defence," said Shevchenko, a former Chelsea striker. "There is always a chance in football and we will have a chance to get the result we deserve."

Ukraine made headlines this week after it unveiled a team shirt for the tournament with a dotted outline of the map of Ukraine on it that includes the Russian-annexed Crimea.

Russia formally objected to UEFA, but European soccer's governing body told Ukraine on Thursday it could keep the map. It said, however, that the team needed to remove the phrase "Glory to the heroes" from the inside of the shirt because it has "historical and military" connotations.

Shevchenko shrugged off the controversy and said his players were more focused on the tournament than on objections to their kit.

"This is a dream we are fulfilling by playing at the Euro," said Shevchenko. "We don't need any more motivations at this tournament."

Ukraine also face Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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