Shakhtar Donetsk entertain Bayern Munich at home in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League tonight and considering Shakhtar’s home record, we could be in for an even game.
Shakhtar Donetsk will have one absentee as Taras Stepanenko will miss the 1st leg after picking up two yellow cards in the final two group games. Stepanenko’s absence will mean that Fernando will play in the defensive midfield role with Fred supporting him to form the double pivot. Stepanenko’s absence could hurt Shakhtar as he played in every group stage game and was a key performer for his side. Vitali Vitsenets will not be available for the game as he is out with an outer meniscus rupture.
Mircea Lucescu has everyone else at his disposal other than those two. Luis Adriano is expected to lead the line and will be a threat to Bayern. The Brazilian has scored nine times in just five Champions League games and has a minute per goal ratio of 50. His countryman Bernard could start on the bench as Lucescu has preferred Taison to him this season and could do so again. Douglas Costa is expected to occupy the other flank with Alex Teixeira playing behind Adriano as the attacking midfielder. In defense, the quartet of Darijo Srna, Olexandr Kucher, Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Marcio Azevedo are expected to start with Pyatov behind them.
For Bayern Munich, Xabi Alonso will miss out after picking up a thigh injury prior to the game against Hamburg. The Spaniard has had a brilliant season so far, but Bayern have a lot of depth to make up for his absence. Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Alaba played together in the deeper midfield roles against Hamburg with Alaba being a more attacking player at times as he likes going forward.
Pep Guardiola will have a headache in selecting his attacking players as all of them have been in good form! Robert Lewandowski was deployed in a wider role against Hamburg and he could keep his place ahead of Franck Ribery who came off the bench against Hamburg. Mario Gotze is expected to play behind Thomas Muller in attack. Arjen Robben is the club’s leading goal scorer and will start on the right as he always does. The Dutchman has had a stellar season so far.
In defense, Jerome Boateng is expected to return to the lineup after missing the final group game due to a suspension. Holger Badstuber returned to the team against Hamburg after a long layoff, but could be dropped to the bench to make way for Boateng who will pair up with Mehdi Benatia. Juan Bernat and Rafinha will be the full backs with Manuel Neuer guarding the goal.
Philip Lahm, Javi Mart nez and Thiago AlcA?ntara continue to be sidelined after suffering from long term injuries before the winter break.
Both the teams are expected to play with the 4-2-3-1 formation.