Tottenham Hotspur
6:45 PM UTC
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6:45 PM UTC
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Borussia Monchengladbach
VfB Stuttgart
6:45 PM UTC
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Sparta Rotterdam
PSV Eindhoven
6:45 PM UTC
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2:00 AM UTC Oct 26, 2016
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Cerro Porteño
Independiente Medellín
12:00 AM UTC Oct 26, 2016
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
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By ESPN Staff

I've been made a scapegoat, insists Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko says he has been made a scapegoat for Chelsea's current problems and is furious with reports suggesting he has become an unsettling influence at the club. The £30million Ukrainian striker has been disappointing in his first season at Stamford Bridge and after missing the last two matches with a muscle strain, is vying for a recall against Liverpool at the weekend.

But Shevchenko, 30, told the Times: 'I am being made a scapegoat for things that have nothing to do with me.

'I have been attacked from all sides but I intend to carry on. I will grit my teeth. I am not a quitter I just want to be kept out of the politics.'

Shevchenko also rejected reports that he is a dressing-room 'spy' of owner and friend Roman Abramovich.

He told ESPNsoccernet: 'This is not true. I'm just one player, I'm part of the team like all the others and I don't think this is true at all.'

'I've got the same relationship [with Abramovich] as other Chelsea players, I'm just one player in the team, and I've got the same relationship as all the other players have.'

The former AC Milan player has shrugged off suggestions that there is tension between him and boss Joe Mourinho and insists he would accept any decision the Portuguese manager made.

He added: 'I highly respect him as a manager.

'Mourinho is a great manager. He has showed how much he's worth by winning so many titles,' he adds.

'He has won many titles, but I cannot judge him either as a coach or as a person because I haven't known him for long enough.

Shevchenko feels he has acclimatized to London, but his on-pitch performances have not been up to scratch and he has come under intense pressure to find the net.

'It's hard to judge my performance,' he says. 'The year is not over yet. So far I have not been at my optimum level, I need time but I'm working as hard as I can.

'I need more time, I need time to fit in, I played for another team, for a long time and now I've come to a new team. I need time and luck as well.'

Shevchenko however has now decided to stop talking to the English media - unless asked to do so by the club.

He declared: 'There have been a lot of quotes coming out from me that I don't even know where they've come from.

'They have caused a lot of hurt to me and my family. From now on other than sanctioned club press conferences all my comments will appear here on my official website.'

Catch Tommy Smyth's interview with Andriy Shevchenko on the next edition of EPSNsoccernet Press Pass