‘We need support’: Ukraine steeled to win battle for attention at Euro 2024

The further the team go at the tournament, the louder they can shout about their country’s plight – a fact they are well aware of

After everything, after the celebrations on the pitch and the celebrations in the stands and the Icelandic-style hand claps, a curious blankness seemed to descend on the Ukrainians. One by one, player after player shuffled towards the team bus in a kind of crumpled stupor, not yet able to process what any of this meant. “I’m very tired, there are no emotions,” Georgiy Sudakov said with a sigh. “I left everything in the locker room,” said Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Perhaps this was the logical consequence of a win that meant everything and changed nothing. Ukraine’s players had emptied every last drop of themselves into the Wroclaw turf, summoned a spell of pure emotion and pure fervour, qualified their country for a fourth consecutive European Championship. But victory hits a little different when the stakes are largely theoretical. Defeat, too. “It would be a shame to lose to someone else,” the Iceland coach Åge Hareide admitted. “But to lose to Ukraine … it’s OK.”

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