Sunday, July 23, 2017

Shakhtar Donetsk v Anderlecht: Hasi seeks European salvation

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 8 Mar 2016

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Anderlecht coach Besnik Hasi will be hoping to save his job in the Europa League against Shakhtar Donetsk as the 33-time Belgian champions continue to falter on the domestic front.

Hasi’s side sit third in the Jupiler League table, nine points behind leaders Club Brugge following a 2-1 loss away to Mouscron-Peruwelz to make it no wins in three league games.

Only the club’s Europa League form has given Hasi a leg to stand on, having progressed to the round of 16 courtesy of an extra-time win over Greece’s Olympiacos.

Upon the draw, Hasi admitted his side faced a tough task against the Ukrainian giants saying: “[Shakhtar] is favourite no matter what happens.

“I had no preference for the draw, but I hoped still to avoid Shakhtar.”

Due to the current political tensions surrounding Ukraine, the first leg will be played in Lviv in western Ukraine where Donetsk currently plays their European fixtures.

The move has not been kind to them, with Shakhtar having won just one of their last five European home games at Arena Lviv.

Donetsk have won their last three games and are undefeated in their last seven in all competitions.

Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu has been at the club since 2004 and led the side to a triumph in the last UEFA Cup – before the competition became the Europa League – in 2009.

But he believes that even a win in the round of 16 would only delay the inevitable, with the 70-year-old claiming whoever wins out of Manchester United and Liverpool will go on to win the competition.

“The winner of this match will win the Europa League,” Lucescu said. 

“They could be well in Champions League, they have history, tradition they have names.”

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