What: Champions League – Round of 16
Who: Borussia Dortmund (2) vs Shakhtar Donetsk (2) (first leg score in brackets)
When: Tuesday 5th March, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Westfalonstadion, Dortmund, Germany
Last Chance of Silverware for Dortmund
Having fallen 17 points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and having also been knocked out of the domestic cup by their arch-rivals last week, Jurgen Klopp’s side face Shakhtar Donetsk knowing that the Champions League represents their most realistic chance of silverware this season.
The Germans will be full of confidence on home soil against the Ukrainians having drawn the away leg 2-2 – particularly as they won all of their home games in the group stage, against Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax. Should they progress, it would mark a return to the quarter-finals of this competition for the first time since 1998, when they were defending champions. The Ruhr giants may be outsiders to repeat their triumph of 16 years ago, but cannot be discounted. They have also gone through in six of the seven European ties in which they have drawn in the first leg away from home.
Unsettling the German side have been continual rumours about the future of Robert Lewandowski. Reports from the same media outlet which revealed Pep Guardiola would become the next Bayern Munich coach suggest that Lewandowski will be joining the Catalan in Bavaria this summer. The club have been forced to admit that their star forward will not sign a new contract and with his current deal expiring next summer, that means they will likely sell him this summer to ensure they recoup a fee. They will hope the visit of Shakhtar Donetsk refocuses his mind on matters on the pitch, although a weekend brace in the 3-1 win over Hannover may suggest it is not affecting him too much.
Three In A row For Shakhtar Donetsk?
Coach Mircea Lucescu takes his team west looking to win their third successive away game in Germany, having won against Stuttgart and Schalke in their last two matches in the country. Dortmund will be a far sterner test however, but Shakhtar Donetsk can point to a useful away record as cause for optimism. If they keep up their current run of form away from home, where they have scored 22 goals in their last 11 games, they should cancel out the German team’s away goals advantage.
The Ukrainian Premier League only just resumed again at the weekend after the winter break, but in spite of that the Miners have played six friendly games since the first leg against Dortmund. Those games have been unconvincing, Shakhtar Donetsk winning just three of the six and losing to Dynamo Moscow at home.
Shakhtar Donetsk did look good though for a team who had not played a competitive game since 2012 when they met for the first leg of this tie. Taison, who has replaced Willian, appeared to be particularly impressive, slotting in perfectly to the team’s rhythm. The Ukrainian champions have been busy replenishing their Brazilian contingent since the first leg too, signing defender Ismaily, although he cannot figure in this game.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Borussia Dortmund (24/02; Bundesliga)
Bayern Munich 1-0 Borussia Dortmund (27/02; German Cup)
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Hannover (02/03; Bundesliga)
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Krylya Sovetov (22/02; Friendly)
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Dynamo Moscow (23/02; Friendly)
Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Volyn (01/03; Ukrainian Premier League)
Borussia Dortmund: Mats Hummels (doubt)
Shakhtar Donetsk: Douglas Costa (doubt)
Players to watch
Borussia Dortmund – Mario Gotze: With Lewandowski perhaps a little distracted and Marco Reus seemingly saving his best form for away matches in the Champions League this season (he has yet to score at home in Europe), maybe it is Gotze who will be most important for Klopp. He has been involved in four of his team’s last six goals in Europe and his ability to control a game makes him a key threat. The young and imperiously talented playmaker can dominate proceedings when on form.
Shakhtar Donetsk – Taison: The signing from Metalist Kharkhiv earlier this year was in great form in the first leg, showing good close control and trickery to cause Dortmund problems. He is excellent attacking space and Dortmund’s defence has not looked particularly strong of late. The forward is capable of the spectacular too and his ability to make something from nothing could help turn this tie in the Ukrainian side’s favour.
The first leg of this encounter was surprisingly scrappy for the most part, with neither side really able to get into a proper rhythm. The late goal from Hummels gave Dortmund the advantage and means Shakhtar Donetsk must chase the game in Germany.
A similar match should be expected here in the return, although Klopp has revealed that he has cut back on his team’s tendency to press in Europe after last season’s experience, where they were knocked out of the competition easily. This clash could therefore see Shakhtar Donetsk look to seize the initiative with more purpose and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could dictate proceedings if he can find space.
Dortmund have won just two of their last six in all competitions and have looked tired at times, as well as particularly vulnerable on the flanks. Surprisingly, the Ruhr giants boast the second worst passing accuracy in the opposition’s half of the pitch of all the teams left in the Champions League and perhaps Shakhtar Donetsk have an advantage. Taison, Mkhitaryan, Luiz Adriano, Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira and Fernandinho give Lucescu wonderful attacking choice and variety going forward, and they should be better rested than their opponents, enough to be able to inflict a surprise away win and progress to the last eight. Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Shakhtar Donetsk.
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