AC Milan being touted as favourites against PSV Eindhoven makes the striker nervous.
By Brian Brownstein
Andriy Shevchenko admits he is wary of AC Milan being labelled the favourites for their UEFA Champions League semi-final against PSV Eindhoven.
Many see the Serie A side as certainties for a berth in the final in Istanbul on 25 May. However, Shevchenko knows his side have not performed well against supposed weaker opposition this season, and therefore refuses to write off the Eredivisie champions.
"We have had some problems against the so-called smaller teams this season, so we would never underestimate PSV," Shevchenko told uefa.com. "We have not been able to create as many chances as we have wanted to because they have played very defensively against us. In this respect, we have to improve if we are to have any hope of winning."
However, Shevchenko revealed he is glad to be facing PSV, rather than Olympique Lyonnais, losers on penalties to the Dutch side in the quarter-finals. He said: "Lyon and PSV are similar teams. However, Lyon are a compact team with a great spirit, who play well and even before the two teams played their second leg, I said it would be good to avoid Lyon. And that is what has happened."
Shevchenko played a pivotal role in Milan's own quarter-final tie, scoring in the first leg of their victory against city rivals FC Internazionale Milano. It was a memorable return to the team for the prolific marksman after he had been sidelined for almost two months with a fractured cheekbone. Even for someone who has scored so many goals, it was a big relief for 'Sheva' to get back on the scoresheet.
"It is horrible being out injured, and only when I am able to play football do I feel complete," he said. "My season has been interrupted badly by injuries. But I came back and scored against Inter. It was a great feeling to score and the whole team were strong for me in those two games."
Milan are involved in a major battle on the domestic front with Juventus FC as well as in Europe, and the Ukrainian and his team-mates run the risk of being distracted against the Dutch side by events in Serie A. However, Shevchenko dismisses such a suggestion, claiming the six-time European Champion Clubs' Cup winners are completely focused on events both home and abroad.
He said: "We are playing well at the moment, in the league and in the Champions League and we have to continue to be focused. It is so close in the league with Juve that we can't afford to make any mistakes at all. All of us have to be 100 per cent focused and, at this stage of the season, the referees can't afford to make any mistakes either. It is that close.
"After the defeat against [AC] Siena [last week] I was so upset I couldn't sleep all night," he added. "I finally managed to get some sleep at 6am but even then it wasn't very good. We must now treat the remaining five games like finals and just aim to win them all, including the San Siro tie against Juventus. We'll see what happens from now until the end of the season but I think we can still win both the Scudetto and the Champions League."