Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund; Champions League, Donbass Arena; Wednesday, 13th February; 19:45 KO.
With a three-month winter break set to finish on March 1st, Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk are at full strength for the first-leg encounter with German champions Borussia Dortmund.
Shakhtar face no injury worries, with new signing Taison ready to make his competitive debut after joining from Metalist Kharkiv.
However, they begin life in the competiton without Willian after the Brazilian star swapped Ukraine for Russia, joining Anzhi Makhachkala for €35 million after some outstanding perfromamces during the group stages.
Ilkay Guendogan will miss the visit to Donetsk with a thigh injury, while full-back Marcel Schmelzer may also be unavailable after turning an ankle in training for Dortmund.
Shakhtar manager praises Dortmund’s ability.
Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu has praised Borussia Dortmund’s style of play ahead of their Champions League last-16 clash with the German title holders.
Dortmund came through the group stages unbeaten, finishing ahead of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax, an achievement Lucescu believes highlights the ability they have.
"Dortmund won the strongest group in this season's competition and that gives you an idea of how good they are," said the Shakhtar boss.
"Maybe you wouldn't call Borussia superstars but their team play has been perfectly fine-tuned. No one else in the Bundesliga plays such a passing and flowing game as Dortmund, but we have to think about our own preparations before thinking of the other team.”
Shakhtar also impressed to reach the last 16, finishing behind Juventus in their group, as they knocked last year’s winners Chelsea, resigning the English side to a Europa League spot.
And, with the Winter break providing his players a chance to recharge themselves, Lucescu hopes they can overcome a difficult draw.
"I hope the class and experience of our players will allow us to approach the Borussia games in top shape and so qualify for the quarter-finals," he concluded.
Meanwhile, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp insists his side will improve for Wednesday night’s game after a disappointing 4-1 home defeat to Hamburg last Saturday.
"We weren't good against Hamburg and deserved to lose, we'll be better on Wednesday,” he said.
Klopp also stated his happiness at Dortmund, dismissing reports linking him with a move away from Germany.
"It's a great club, a great city, everything is okay. It's not about the money for me. I have enough to eat three times a day. I enjoy what I'm doing here at Dortmund. It's a big honour, but in this moment I'm not on the market, I'm sorry,” he added.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms