Real Sociedad-Shakhtar Donetsk Preview: Group A hopefuls begin campaign
The Spanish side return to the Champions League after a nine-year absence as the group stage gets underway
Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk will both hope to start their European campaign with a bang when they meet in Spain on Tuesday.
The hosts progressed to the knockout stage of Europe's premier club competition in their last appearance in 2003-04, before losing to Lyon.
However, they gained revenge for that elimination last month by beating the French side in the play-offs of this season's competition.
Sociedad achieved a top-four finish in La Liga last term thanks mainly to a remarkable run of form that saw them suffer just three defeats in 28 games under the tutelage of now-departed coach Philippe Montanier.
Jagoba Arrasate is now at the helm and the San Sebastian-based outfit managed to bolster their squad with the likes of Esteban Granero, Jose Angel and Haris Seferovic in the close season, although key midfielder Asier Illarramendi left for Real Madrid.
And they face a testing encounter in their first Champions League tie since 2004 when they welcome Ukrainian champions Shakhtar to Anoeta in Group A.
The Ukrainian club progressed to the first knockout phase of last season's tournament, where they were beaten 5-2 on aggregate by eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund.
But while Mircea Lucescu's men are currently unbeaten in 27 league home matches, their record away from Donetsk in Europe is far from impressive, as they have won only two of their last eight fixtures.
Lucescu's first-choice XI is likely to look significantly different to last season, although the Romanian did his best to offset the departures of Henrik Mkhitaryan and Fernandinho to Dortmund and Manchester City by bringing in Bernard, Fred, Facundo Ferreyra, Fernando and Wellington Nem.
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Top 3 Predictions
Real Sociedad 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
- 22.08 %
Real Sociedad 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
- 11.3 %
Real Sociedad 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
- 10.91 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||28/11/2013||Shakhtar Donetsk 4 - Real Sociedad 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||18/09/2013||Real Sociedad 0 - Shakhtar Donetsk 2|
|03/03/2014||Sevilla 1 - Real Sociedad 0||LIGA|
|23/02/2014||Real Sociedad 3 - FC Barcelona 1||LIGA|
|18/02/2014||Malaga 0 - Real Sociedad 1||LIGA|
|13/02/2014||Real Sociedad 1 - FC Barcelona 1||ESPC|
|10/02/2014||Real Sociedad 0 - Levante UD 0||LIGA|
|24||Alberto De la Bella||Defender|
|3||Mikel González Martínez||Defender|