Shakhtar have emerged as one of the new exciting forces of European football in recent years and really are a class act.
Shakhtar Donetsk are the kings of Ukrainian football. They have taken over the mantel of top dog from traditional Ukrainian powerhouses Dynamo Kiev.
Kiev were the latest Ukrainian team to make an impact in Europe’s competition having made it to the quarter and semi-finals in the late 1990’s.
However Shakhtar Donetsk are hoping to go all the way this time around. The Miners have been building up their European experience in recent years and have already beaten Barcelona twice in the Champions League, once in 2004 and once in 2008.
Shakhtar Donetsk usual playing style is that of free flowing attacking football. This style has a huge South American influence thanks to the presence of six Brazilian players in the squad. The likes of Willian, Fernandinho and Douglas Costa are all highly-rated and have a big say in how the team plays.
Attacking midfielder Willian is being linked with a move to the Premier League with Manchester United and Chelsea believed to be trailing the 22 year-old. He could be the key player for Shakhtar and if he is on form then Barca will need to be on their guard.
Although Shakhtar usually play free-flowing attacking football but there are certain pundits predicting that Shakhtar head coach Mircea Lucescu may decide to adopt a more physical approach to rough up the Spanish champions.
The Romanian is a wily operator and maybe he believes a tougher approach could upset the Spaniards rhythm. It has worked for a few other sides this season but it’s not necessarily the right approach to take.
For the neutrals it would be better for the game if Shakhtar take their usual approach. It could also be better for the Ukrainian champions, as Barcelona are at their weakest when on the back foot.
Barca love to attack and it leaves space for the opposition to counter-attack and Shakhtar have the perfect style to take advantage of Barca’s defensive failings. In many ways the sides are quite similar in the way they usually play the game. This has the potential to be a very exciting encounter.
With a difficult second leg to come at the Donbass Arena, Barcelona will need to secure a good result in the first leg at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night. Barcelona don’t tend to change their style, regardless of the opposition and this tie will be no different.
This tie is a tough one for Barcelona but if they want to be European Champions again then these are the sort of hurdles they must overcome. I fully expect Messi and Co. to progress into the semi-finals.
They are competition favourites for a reason and that reason is they are capable of overcoming these sorts of challenges. Barcelona are lauded as one of the best teams ever and this season they have a chance to add to those calls by winning the Champions League for the second time in three years.
Are Shakhtar Donetsk the toughest team that Barca could have drew in the Champions League?
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!