Verdict: AS Roma
Best Odds: 2/1
The only eastern European side in the Champions League knockouts Shakhtar Donetsk will play host to Serie A giants AS Roma at OSC Metalist Kharkiv which as of last year was installed as the ‘home venue’ for the Ukrainian war refugee giants.
Ukrainian Miners are truly a special club. For years now Shakhtar Donets has defied upheaval in this eastern European country to send a highly positive image to the world with quality football, fantastic footballers and successes that have not been left undocumented.
As the only representative of the eastern part of the continent, Shakhtar Donets face a difficult battle this season as they head into Wednesday’s Champions League matchup with AS Roma with sparse match practice and lack of quality signings. The long-lasting conflict in Ukraine saw Shakhtar owner Rinat Akhmetov lose control over a notable few of his enterprises located in the rebel-held territories which ultimately resulted in thinning his wallet much to the club’s detriment. Shakhtar Donetsk remain upbeat despite all the problems and will lack no motivation heading into the high-profile clash with Giallorossi. Shakhtar should not be underestimated as they managed to edge out high-flying Napoli to finish second to Manchester City in Group F and will be highly motivated to record a positive result against AS Roma in the first leg.
The home side will not have too many selection problems ahead of this high-profile duel with the exception of captain Darijo Srna who is suspended for the occasion.
Midfielder Wellington Silva has been sidelined with an injury since last August and will remain in the medical room for the forthcoming game.
Italian giants AS Roma travel to Ukraine on the back of a three-match willing stint which will have done wonders for Giallorossi’s morale and self-confidence. Eusebio Di Francesco’s men have high hopes heading into the Last 16 tie against the Ukrainian giants, knowing they’ve done remarkably well in the group stage of the competition.
AS Roma managed to outwit Premier League champions and finish top of Group C, leaving Antonio Conte’s side stranded in a tie against mighty Barcelona. As a reward for their fantastic group-stage exploits Giallorossi were handed a much more favourable draw. AS Roma will nevertheless know much better than to underestimate Shakhtar Donetsk who beat the Italian side in last three encounters back in 2006 and twice in 2011. The circumstances have changed significantly since then, however, and high-flying AS Roma can’t escape the favourite tag being slapped across their back. The Italians will most certainly hope Turkish starlet Cengiz Under can maintain the high-performance level and lead his team to victory in Ukraine. The 20-year-old midfielder scored four goals in last three appearances for AS Roma and currently stands as one of the most in-form members of Di Francesco’s squad.
Netherlands defender Rick Karsdorp has yet to recover from his knee injury which ruined his entire debut season with Giallorossi.
Another summer signing Maxime Gonalons is suffering from an injury and was not included in the 21-man squad list for the forthcoming fixture.
Key Factors to Consider
- Host played only one competitive match since December 2017
- Shakhtar Donetsk defeated AS Roma in last three meetings of the two sides
- Italians are flying on the back of a three-match winning run
- AS Roma scored eight goals in their last three matches
- Cengiz Under notched four goals in last three appearances for AS Roma
Shakhtar Donetsk are experiencing all sorts of problems this season and head into their Champions League match low on match practice and competitive action but should not be underestimated regardless. AS Roma head over to Ukraine on the back of a highly-successful run and will be looking to extend their flying form and make an important leap towards the quarterfinals.
Verdict: AS Roma
Best Odds: 2/1
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!