A place in the Round of 16 will be up for grabs when Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon meet in a Matchday 6 tie at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Wednesday
As we head into the final day of competition in the UEFA Champions League group stage, there are still a few spots that are left to be confirmed in the Round of 16. One of these spots will be taken up by either Shakhtar Donetsk or Lyon, with the two sides vying for the second qualification place in Group F in Kiev on Wednesday night.
Lyon and Shakhtar Donetsk currently occupy the second and third spots in Group F, with just two points separating them. With Manchester City already through to the Round of 16, the two sides will be sparring for the other spot, although Shakhtar could even drop to bottom of the table, if Hoffenheim beat City and they lose.
Paulo Fonseca’s men earned a lifeline for their Champions League campaign, beating Hoffenheim 3-2 on Matchday 5 in a clash that sent the losers out of the competition. And, the Ukrainian champions warmed up for the do-or-die match against Lyon with a 3-0 win over Mariupol last week.
Lyon, on the other hand, last played a game exactly a week ago, when they beat Rennes 2-0 at home. Their game on the weekend against Toulouse was postponed due to security issues as a result of the ongoing protests in France. As far as the UEFA Champions League is concerned, Bruno Genesio’s men are unbeaten, but have drawn four of their five games.
The reverse fixture, played on Matchday 2, ended in a 2-2 draw, with Lyon coming from two goals down to earn a point, courtesy goals from Moussa Dembele and Leo Dubois. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the UEFA Champions League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Paulo Fonseca has a few injury concerns hampering his preparation ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Lyon. In all, the Shakhtar Donetsk boss is set to be without as many as three first-team players, each of whom have likely played for the final time in 2018.
Defence is the worst-hit area, with Ivan Ordets and Yaroslav Rakitskyi struggling with long-term injuries. Dentinho is the third player on the treatment table, with Brazilian recovering from a muscle injury. But, the injuries aren’t the biggest concern for Fonseca, who has to oversee a change in home base for his side due to political tensions in Kharkiv.
On the pitch, however, Fonseca will hope to have most of his first-choice players available, with the in-form Andriy Pyatov set to be a busy man in goal. Ahead of him, Oleh Danchenko, Mykola Matviyenko, Serhiy Krvytsov and Ismaily are likely to comprise the back four that will have the unenviable task of keeping the likes of Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir quiet on the night.
In midfield, Taras Stepanenko will be charged with providing cover to the back four while also setting the tempo of the game. Alan Patrick is likely to be his partner in the midfield pivot, with the 27-year-old offering an energetic presence in the middle of the park.
Marlos and Serhiy Bolbat will be the wide men for the “hosts”, with the duo providing a pacy outlet on the flanks. Taison though, will be the key man for Shakhtar, with the Brazilian aiming to use his guile and creative instincts to penetrate the Lyon defence and link up with Junior Moraes.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Danchenko, Krvytsov, Matvieyenko, Ismaily; Patrick, Stepanenko; Marlos, Taison, Bolbat; Junior Moraes
Bruno Genesio has a few pressing concerns ahead of the trip to Kiev to take on Shakhtar Donetsk. On Wednesday, the Lyon manager could be without as many as five first-team players due to various injuries.
Those who are set to miss the tie are Rafael Da Silva (shoulder), Maxwel Cornet (hamstring) and Amine Goulri (knee). Cornet’s absence, in particular, is a bitter blow for Lyon, with the winger being in fine form before being forced to the sidelines.
Genesio is also sweating over the fitness of Tanguy Ndombele and Pape Diop, with the duo dealing with their respective foot injuries. Ndombele and Diop have been included in the travelling squad by the Lyon boss, and there’s a high chance that they will be able to feature.
Ndombele’s availability, in particular, will be crucial, with the Frenchman providing a tenacious presence in the middle of the park. If he isn’t fit enough to start, Lucas Tousart could be the man to take his compatriot’s place, with Houssem Aouar taking the other place in the midfield.
At the back, Jason Denayer, Marcelo and Jeremy Morel are likely to form the back-three that will provide cover to Anthony Lopes in the Lyon goal. The fit-again Leo Dubois should be the right wing-back, while the talented Ferland Mendy barely any competition on the opposite flank.
Up ahead in attack, Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir are certain starters, with the latter being the creative force for the visitors. The final spot in the side will be a toss-up between Moussa Dembele and Bertrand Traore, with former Chelsea man likely to get the nod on Wednesday.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Morel; Dubois, Ndombele, Aouar, Mendy; Fekir; Traore, Memphis Depay
- This will be only the second competitive meeting between Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon, with the first ending in a 2-2 draw on Matchday 2 earlier this season.
- Shakhtar Donetsk haven’t won either of their two Champions League home games so far this term, drawing 2-2 with Hoffenheim and losing 0-3 to Manchester City. They haven’t gone three successive European home games without a win since November 2013 (four in a row).
- If Lyon avoid defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk, they will have remained unbeaten during the group stages for the first time since doing so consecutively in 2005-06 & 2006-07.
- Brazilian players have had 13 goal involvements in Shakhtar’s seven Champions League goals so far this season (7 goals, 6 assists), more than any other team in the competition.
- Paulo Fonseca has taken charge of 19 Champions League games to date and has seen his side keep just one clean sheet – in his first game. The only manager to see his side fail to keep a clean sheet in 19 or more Champions League games in a row was Leonid Slutskiy (28 games), all with CSKA Moscow between November 2011 and December 2016.
Player to Watch
The Lyon captain hasn’t quite been in his elements this season. But, games like these are when the best of players tend to shine for their sides, and Fekir will be hoping to prove his mettle in arguably the biggest European game for Lyon in recent history.
With Maxwel Cornet unavailable, Fekir will have to shoulder more responsibility alongside Memphis Depay. If he manages to come to the party, the former Liverpool target should set the foundation of a big win in Kiev.
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Lyon
Two weeks ago, the prediction for this match could have been relatively straightforward, with Shakhtar Donetsk struggling to be competitive and Lyon giving a side like Manchester City a run for their money. But, things have changed since then.
The Ukrainian champions will be buzzing after their 3-2 win over Hoffenheim, and will have it all to play for on Wednesday, which could bring the best out of them once again. Lyon, on the other hand, are missing Maxwel Cornet, their top scorer in Europe this season, which could affect their output in the final third.
But, a change in bases will likely be a bigger factor, much to the detriment of Paulo Fonseca & co. The Hard Tackle predicts a close contest in Ukraine, with Lyon having the edge in the end, and progressing to the Round of 16.