In the eighth finals of the Champions League the surprises Shakhtar Donetsk and AS Roma face each other. No one would have dared to think that both teams could get this far in the European champions ball.
Shakhtar Donetsk :
After a long winter break, Shakhtar Donetsk resumed the competition last weekend with a resounding 5-0 victory over Chornomorets Odessa. The big question now is whether De Mijnwerkers are ready for the cracker against AS Roma in the eighth finals of the Champions League. For Ukrainian teams, this is always a difficult phase, since they have no more competitive matches since mid-December last year. Last season, Shakhtar Donetsk made an impression in the group stage of the Europa League, but was immediately eliminated in the knockout stage by Celta de Vigo. A questionable penalty kick eventually brought the decision, but the wintry preparation of coach Paulo Fonseca was questioned.
In view of the odds, the bookmakers expect a somewhat rusty Shakhtar Donetsk again on Wednesday evening, but the Ukrainians have often shown that they can do well with a role as an underdog. In the group stage of the Champions League, the team managed to stunt by finishing second behind group winner Manchester City and leaving Napoli and Feyenoord disappointed. The Ukrainians grabbed no less than twelve points and were able to win all their home games. Napoli (2-1), Feyenoord (3-1) and Manchester City (2-1) all had to leave the OSK Metalist Stadium with empty hands.
The selection of Shakhtar Dontesk has been pretty Brazilian for years and that is no different this season. The current selection accommodates no less than seven Brazilians, with midfielder Fred as a big star. The number eight is one of the mainstays of the Ukrainians in both defensive and offensive terms and even earned a transfer to Manchester City with his strong play. This summer he will make the switch to the English top club for over fifty million euros. Incidentally, Paulo Fonseca could soon also make a nice transition, because the Portuguese coach was already associated with none other than Bayern Munich.
AS Roma :
According to the bookmakers, AS Roma is the favorite to join the last eight of the European champions ball, but the Italians will have to be on their guard. Shakhtar Donetsk managed to stay ahead of the current Serie A leader in the group stage with Napoli. AS Roma initially also seemed a serious candidate for the Scudetto, but the Romans turned out to be a bit too unstable this season.
AS Roma has particularly trouble with scoring this season. Last season, the Giallorossi with no less than ninety goals were the second-most scoring team of Serie A. In particular, Edin Dzeko had 29 goals in just 27 competition appearances on his hips. Without the last summer to go to Liverpool Mohamed Salah, however, has trouble the Bosnian. With eleven goals in 25 league matches, he is still the most dangerous man in the team of trainer Eusebio di Francesco, but he is not nearly as accurate as last year. Last winter, Dzeko was all but one round with Chelsea, but AS Roma managed to keep him in the Stadio Olimpico in the nick of time. In order to be able to comply with the Financial Fair Play rules, however, the Romans had to sell the defenders Emerson and Antonio Rüdiger and playmaker Leandro Paredes in recent months. The club won the Turkish prodigy Cengiz Ünder as one of the replacements, but with the newcomers it lacks some stability. With three wins in a row, however, AS Roma is in shape for the cracker against Shakhtar Donetsk just in time. Last weekend, Udinese won 0-2 with goals from Ünder and Diego Perotti. Also in the Champions League, the Italians did an excellent job in a group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, among others, to win the group win.
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