RBL are getting their Champions League campaign underway tonight as they welcome the top Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk to Leipzig. The 'Miners' are the second most successful outfit in Ukraine, only behind Dynamo Kiev. In our opposition analysis, we examine their squad and reveal how their manager Igor Jovicevic has set them up in their last few games, with football returning in Ukraine. However, the 2009 Europa League champions will play their home games in Europe in Warsaw, Poland.
Transfers at a glance
Due to the war in Ukraine, many of their foreign players left the club, the majority staying in Europe. Eight Brazilians also left the team. To recoup from their losses and build a competitive, tonight’s visitors have had to be active in the transfer market, and a double digit number of signings has given the club a completely new look. The bulk of the team is made up of local players.
Bogdan Mykhaylichenko (on loan from Anderlecht) and the Brazilian Lucas Taylor (on loan from PAOK) have strengthened the defence, while midfielders Ivan Petryak and Oleksandr Zubkov arrive from Hungary’s top division. Right-winger Maryan Shved last played for KV Mechelen in Belgium, and Danylo Sikan most recently for Hansa Rostock. In the 2. Bundesliga, the striker made 11 appearances, registering one goal and one assist.
Having signed so many new players, the team is still largely finding its feet again. But one of Donetsk’s stalwarts is centre-back Mykola Matwiienko. The 26-year-old Ukraine national player, who played for his country last year in the Euros, is the commander of the defence. Behind him is goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin – who at just 21 has already been compared with Belgium’s star stopper Thibaut Courtois.
Taras Stepanenko brings experience to the young squad – the holding midfielder has 51 caps for Ukraine. Winger Mykhalo Mudryk, who is regarded as the biggest young talent in Ukraine, is the subject of numerous transfer rumours linking him abroad. Lassina Traore (from Burkina Faso) and Olarenwaju Kayode (from Nigeria) are both two dangerous attackers, making up the few foreign members of the squad.
Shakhtar’s head coach Igor Jovicevic joined the club in July this year, having previously managed Dnipro-1. The Croatian is himself a former professional, and played for Real Madrid’s B-team, among others. The 48-year-old took up his first full-time coaching job in 2015, taking the reins at Karpaty Lviv. He then plied his trade at Dynamo Zagreb between 2017 and 2020, having first managed their academy side before taking over the first team.
In Donetsk, Jovicevic prefers a 4-2-3-1 system, and sees football as a way of moving forward: “Football manages to convey many people’s emotions and gives strength to those who continue to fight for our country. It also shows that somehow, life goes on here,” he added on the resumption of the sport in Ukraine.
Since December 2021, Shakhtar Donetsk have only played three competitive games due to the war, having only played friendlies in the last couple of months, until Ukrainian Premier League restarted on 23rd August. Shakhtar have earned seven points from their first three fixtures.
They kicked off their season with a goalless draw against Metalist 1925 Kharkiv, winning their first game on the second matchday. Anton Bondarenko scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Kryvbas, while most recently (2nd September) it was the same scoreline against Rukh Lviv, with Yuhykm Konoplia breaking the deadlock. Our boys have therefore been warned, but the message is clear – we want to get our Champions League campaign underway on Tuesday night with all three points!
Last three results
Shakhtar Donetsk's last three results:
- August 23rd 2022, vs. Metalist 1925 Kharkiv (H): drew 0-0 (Premier League)
- 28th August 2022, vs Kryvbas (H): won 1-0 (Premier League)
- 2nd September 2022, vs. Rukh Lviv (A): won 1-0 (Premier League)
Champions League results
How far Shakhtar have got in their recent UCL campaigns:
- 2020/21: Group stage
- 2019/20: Group stage
- 2018/19: Group stage
- 2017/18: Round of 16
- 2016/17: Group stage