THE EUROPA LEAGUE HIATUS IS OVER!
After almost 5 months, Shakhtar Donetsk RESUME their 19/20 European campaign as the last Ukrainian side still standing on the continent!
They face Wolfsburg in the 2nd leg of their UEL Round of 16 tie.
Shakhtar (2) v (1) Wolfsburg
Shakhtar lead on aggregate following a narrow but deserved away win at the Volkswagen Arena back in March.
Marcos Antonio scored the winner that night following Moraes’ opener & Brooks’ equaliser.
Antonio’s goal may prove vital in the away goal stakes too!
Commenting on his & the team’s prep ahead of this game he said:
‘(Today’s) game is completely different (to first leg)- we need to forget about it…The major thing is making it further – Q for UEL QFs’
There are no fresh injury concerns for Shakhtar going into this game. Ismaily had ACL surgery post lockdown and is already out until Dec. Meanwhile Vladyslav Vakula will also be unable to help the team. Other than that – a full strength squad is expected to be selected by Castro!
The match will be taking place in Kyiv – for ease of logistical purposes and for Coronavirus safety reasoning. There’s little point in flying to Kharkiv & risking potential virus contraction especially when you’re playing Behind Closed Doors anyway. Shakhtar are expected to continue to use Kyiv for 20/21 too, following negotiations with Dynamo and the Olympiyskyi.
Shakhtar go into this tie as recently crowned UPL Champions. They won the league with 5 games to spare and as a result played out the season at a lower intensity & at times with weaker squads. Will this end up being detrimental in the side’s preparedness?
Wolfsburg return to competitive action for the first time in a month & a half. The side experienced a very inconsent final run-in following the Covid Bundesliga return. Also they have a number of injury issues – including Kevin Mbabu who tested + for Covid & is in self isolation!
The Wolfsburg team have reportedly shown concern for travelling to Ukraine due to rising Covid numbers ahead of arriving in Kyiv. Similarly in a recent interview , Wolfsburg boss initially thought his side were going to Donetsk to play (highlighting their preparedness)…
Overall – the game is delicately poised – with neither side fully certain of their match fitness despite a couple of warm up friendlies. Shakhtar with the away goal adv need to make it count to set up a UEL QF tie with either Basel or Eintracht
UEFA Coefficient points are riding on it!