Leverkusen are scared of Shakhtar, says Lucescu

Despite suffering a 4-0 defeat in Germany, the Ukranian believes the Bundesliga outfit fielded a weaker side at the weekend in preparation for the trip to the Donbass Arena
Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu believes Bayer Leverkusen are scared of the threat posed by his side despite the Germans' 4-0 win in the previous meeting.

The Ukranian outfit were trounced at the BayArena two weeks ago and slumped to a 2-0 loss to Volyn in their latest league encounter, but Lucescu insists Sami Hyypia's weakened selection in the weekend defeat to Eintracht Braunschweig proves he is wary of the Ukrainians.

"Leverkusen risked fielding reserve players in their last Bundesliga match to give some first-choice players a rest, which shows their attitude to this game in Donetsk," he told reporters.

"Apart from their respect for Shakhtar, they are also a little bit wary of us.

"This game is important for both teams in the competition for a place in knockout stages.

"A win in the first match has given them a major advantage, because head-to-head results are the first tie-break criteria; that’s how we finished above Chelsea last year.

"The result in Leverkusen didn’t reflect what happened on the pitch. In the first half, they didn't create anything except for the move that led to Stefan Kiessling's goal, and before the break we were unlucky as Alex Teixeira missed the opportunity to equalise.

"Our task for the second half was to risk playing attacking football, but after the second goal we stopped doing the things that we spoke about.

"With the support of the Donbass Arena, we have to put things right."

Hyypia himself admits his side are unlikely to enjoy such a resounding victory in their trip to Easter Europe, but the former defender is eager for a win which would take them to the brink of progression from the group.

"We have analysed the first game in Leverkusen. Our victory was fully deserved, but I think that everything will be different here in Donetsk," he said.

"They’re a very strong Shakhtar side and now they’re playing at home, so I expect it will be a very difficult match for us.

"Tomorrow we need to have our best and most experienced players on the pitch, as this game is decisive. If we will win, we’ll be very close to qualifying for the knockout stage.

"Everyone knows how important this match is for us. We will field the best team possible."