Quick links

FIFA World Cup

England rely on Rooney, we are better team – Ukraine players speak out

The eastern European national captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and team-mate Yevhen ¬Konoplyanka are ready for battle.

With a point separating England and Ukraine in Group H of European World Cup qualifying, the sides go head-to-head on Tuesday night in a critical fixture.

With the two sides and Montenegro all battling it out for top spot and automatic qualification for the tournament in Brazil, the midweek result will have a huge bearing on the final standings.

Despite the England team being loaded with Premier League stars, Ukraine captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk feels the hosts are the better side.

"We do not have you the big names that England have, but we have very good players," he said.

"The truth is that the big English names - like Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard - have had lots of success and won many ­trophies for their clubs, but for whatever reason they cannot do it with their country.

"England might have names that all football fans know around Europe, but Ukraine are ­better.

"We are more balanced and when you see us play we look more of a team than England - more like we are in tune with each other.

"That is why there is real belief within the squad that we can ­qualify for Brazil."

Roy Hodgson has something of a crisis on his hands in attack, with Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge all unavailable for the clash in Kiev.

Rooney’s omission has seemingly buoyed Ukraine, with midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka stating that the Three Lions are over-reliant on the Manchester United star.

"We were unfortunate not to beat England in London, we should have won. We dominated for a lot of the game and it took a late penalty for them to draw with us in their own stadium,” he said.

"They didn’t have Rooney that night and it is good news for us England won’t have him again. England are a different team when he plays. When he isn’t, you can see they are looking for ­inspiration from somebody else, but can’t find it.

"Every nation has their ­stand-out player, but I can’t think of any ­nation that are as reliant on one player as England are on Rooney.”

The statements from the Ukrainian players add spice to a game that already has a lot riding on it. It seems that the eastern European nation have revenge on the cards after England got the better of them in Euro 2012 and scrapped a draw at Wembley earlier in the qualification process.

Do you think Ukraine have a better team than England? Are England over-reliant on Wayne Rooney?

image: © pahudson

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch