Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp has dismissed Shakhtar Donetsk’s lack of competitive action ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash.
Shakhtar have not played a competitive fixture since early December when they lost 1-0 to Juventus in their final match of the Champions League group stage.
The club’s return to European action has arrived in the middle of the Ukrainian Premier League’s three-month winter break.
But according to Klopp, that does not mean Dortmund can expect an easy game in Donetsk, emphasising the quality in Shakhtar’s squad.
“Different parameters determine performance, playing in the league is only one of them,” Klopp said.
“(Shakhtar) have unbelievable quality in their squad, their starting 11 is brilliant and so is their bench.
“They just got Taison 20 million euros cheaper than the other one (Willian, who left for Anzhi Makhachkala in the January transfer window), it’s unbelievable.
“They have an impressive midfield with Fernandinho.
“It will be a massive challenge for us.”
Shakhtar have been keeping fit at a number of mini tournaments in the United Arab Emirates and Spain, playing against Middle Eastern, Scandinavian and Russian clubs and winning six of seven matches.
Meanwhile, Dortmund have claimed three victories from four games since returning to competitive action after Germany’s own winter break.
Dortmund’s head coach faces a challenge getting his best 11 on the pitch as his squad has been ravaged by illness over the past week, with full-backs Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek both in doubt, but Klopp will not let that deter him from a defensive focus in Ukraine.
“In an away game you must be stable and try to allow them as few chances as possible,” Klopp said.
“That will be an enormous task against them because of their individual class … they need to win against us but we have other plans.
“We want to be really difficult opponents and create a good base for our home game.”