Shakhtar Donetsk - Chelsea Preview: Blues travel to Ukraine for top-of-group clash
Both sides have taken four points from their opening two matches and go into the game knowing a win would put them in the driving seat to make it through to the knockout stages
By Shane Farrington
Srna, Chygrynskiy, Rakitskiy, Rat
Ilsinho, Mkhitaryan, Willian
Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole
Hazard, Oscar, Mata
Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu has a strong squad to pick from. Experienced defensive duo Razvan Rat and Darijo Srna should both start as could Brazilian quartet Ilsinho, Fernandinho, Willian and Luiz Adriano.
Despite scoring in Croatia’s 2-0 World Cup 2014 qualifier against Wales, ex-Arsenal man Eduardo is likely to be on the bench with the prolific Henrikh Mkhitaryan starting up front.
Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo is likely to recall John Terry to his starting the line-up with the ex-England international currently serving a four-game domestic ban. Frank Lampard came off the bench against Tottenham at the weekend and the veteran midfield could get a chance to impress from the off in Ukraine.
Fernando Torres will again be expected to lead the line with support likely to come from attacking midfield trio Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, although Ramires could take the place of one of the three if Di Matteo looks for a more defensive-minded option.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Shakhtar Donetsk have won their opening 12 games of the season in Ukraine, adding to a run that now stretches to 21 consecutive victories in the Ukranian league.
- The hosts' Donbass Arena stadium, a venue for Euro 2012, opened on 29 August 2009 and has a capacity of 52,000.
- The club’s best-ever finish in the Champions League came last season - when they reached the quarter-finals where they lost 6-1 on aggregate to Barcelona.
- If Chelsea can make it past the group stages this season it will be the 11th consecutive year they have done so.
- Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech (pictured right) had the best saves-to-shots ratio in last season’s competition - an impressive 82.9 per cent.
- Chelsea have scored in each of their last 16 Champions League matches - scoring 32 goals in the process.
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Top 3 Predictions
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Chelsea FC
- 21.98 %
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Chelsea FC
- 13.91 %
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 Chelsea FC
- 11.36 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 7, 2012||Chelsea FC 3 - Shakhtar Donetsk 2|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 23, 2012||Shakhtar Donetsk 2 - Chelsea FC 1|
|Feb 27, 2014||Shakhtar Donetsk 1 - FC Viktoria Plzeň 2||EL|
|Feb 20, 2014||FC Viktoria Plzeň 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 1||EL|
|Dec 10, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 0||UCL|
|Nov 27, 2013||Shakhtar Donetsk 4 - Real Sociedad 0||UCL|
|Nov 5, 2013||Shakhtar Donetsk 0 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0||UCL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
The Brazilian has been heavily linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge throughout recent transfer windows. The 24-year-old started the season out of the side but a string of impressive displays have seen him force his way back in. With plenty of tricks and ability, the Chelsea backline are going to have to keep a close eye on him and prevent him from creating chances for the on-fire Henrik Mkhitaryan.
The Spaniard looks to be thriving after the summer departure of Didier Drogba led to him becoming the club’s undisputed first-choice striker. His game has become more rounded from his Liverpool days when he relied on his lightning quick pace, with him now dropping slightly deeper and pulling out wide to become more creative. With chances likely to be at a premium in the Ukraine, the Blues will need him to take any opportunities which fall his way.
With both sides unbeaten going into the match on four points, it could make for an open and expansive game. So far this season Chelsea have looked impressive going forward but face a tricky test against tough opposition. Both teams could find the back of the net in an exciting score draw.