Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk is making another temporary stadium change for its Champions League schedule this upcoming season. The displaced club is not playing in its home city for European competition as the country continues its war against Russia.
Domestic contests in the Ukrainian Premier League are still happening. For those, Shakhtar Donetsk plays at the NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv, away from its home stadium in the east of the country. However, UEFA is not allowing continental contests in Ukraine because of Russia’s invasion. As a result, Shakhtar is playing European games outside of Ukraine for the second-straight year. Last season, Shakhtar used the Stadion Wojska Polskiego, the traditional home of Polish side Legia Warsaw.
However, for the 2023/24 campaign, BILD reports Shakhtar Donetsk is using Hamburg’s stadium for the Champions League. The Volksparkstadion, or People’s Park, seats 57,000 for league matches. The last time it hosted a Champions League contest was back in 2006. The club’s main tenant, Hamburg, plays in the German second division.
The Russian invasion displaced millions of Ukrainians. Germany has the most of any European Union country. Over 1 million Ukrainians sought shelter in Germany. Shakhtar Donetsk will likely be the only Ukrainian team in this season’s UEFA Champions League. SC Dnipro-1 is currently playing in the qualifying stage. It lost its first-leg game against Panathinaikos. That ‘home’ game was in Slovakia, and the Ukrainian side lost, 3-1.
Shakhtar guarantees three Champions League games in Hamburg stadium
Shakhtar, on the other hand, has a guaranteed spot in the group stage. The club is in pot three, alongside the likes of RB Salzburg, Milan, Lazio and Red Star Belgrade. This is Shakhtar’s 13th straight year in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. It fell in the group stage in each of the last five campaigns.
Last season, Shakhtar Donetstk’s ‘home’ games brought Real Madrid and RB Leipzig to Poland for games. In its three home games, Shakhtar drew twice and lost to Leipzig. A third-place finish relegated the Ukrainian club to the Europa League, where it lost in the round of 16.
PHOTO: IMAGO & NurPhoto
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