Shakhtar Donetsk have not played a competitive game since the turn of the New Year. In fact, the Ukrainian champions’ last match was on December 14th against Porto on matchday six of the Champions League. Since that time, Shakhtar have competed in venues outside of its war-torn country (Spain, Croatia and Brazil).
The club is normally based in the based in the biggest city held by pro-Russian separatists, who took control of Donetsk in April and have been battling Ukrainian forces ever since.
Shakhtar is now forced to play their home games 600 miles away from its normal home at the Donbass Arena (which was damaged by shelling last year), in the western city of Lviv; while its administrative headquarters and player training sessions have been relocated to the capital, Kiev.
The Ukrainian club’s coach Mircea Lucescu is entirely aware that the odds are completely staked against his side as they prepare to entertain German champions Bayern Munich today. But the Shakhtar boss believes if his side can beat the Bundesliga club – despite the conditions surrounding his side – his players will be considered “heroes”.
“We will be heroes if we beat Bayern and qualify for the next stage,” Lucescu said. “Our last competitive game was ten weeks ago, and you all know about the conditions we have been working under this season.”
“Almost everyone will tell you that Bayern are going through, especially after their 8-0 win in the last league match.”
The coach went on to heap praise Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola, but warned that football can be a crazy game sometimes.
“In the last two seasons he [Pep Guardiola] has changed Bayern and made them play like a Latin side,” Lucescu added. “He is creating a unique team, but there are always chances in a two-legged tie.”
“Sometimes logic doesn’t apply to football. We have 13 Brazilians in the squad who are dreaming of exacting revenge against Bayern’s six world champions.”
Programming note: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Bayern Munich will be shown LIVE today at 2:45pm EST on FOX Sports 2 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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