Preview: Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma

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Roma face a daunting trip to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk in a Champions League round-of-16 clash in Kharkiv.

UEFA Champions League
22 February 2018
Kick-off: 03:45 HKT
Venue: Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist

Referee: W. Collum
Assistants: D. McGeachie, F. Connor
Fourth official: D. Potter

Head-to-head summary

Shakhtar Donetsk 4 3 0 1
Roma 4 1 0 3

Previous encounter

Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 Roma 08/03/2011 (Champions League)

Shakhtar Donetsk goalscorers: T. Hübschman (18’), Willian (58’), E. da Silva (87’)

Players to watch

While it is tempting to give plaudits to Darijo Srna, Shakhtar’s long-serving Croatian full-back who is like their very own Javier Zanetti, the player also worth watching is Brazilian attacker Bernard, who wears their No.10 and adds attacking flair to the team alongside countrymen Taison, Fred, and Dentinho.

Roma’s team has a number of noteworthy players, with striker Edin Dzeko a regular threat and midfielder Radja Nainggolan probably their most important player. However, a new arrival is also settling in well is Cengiz Under, their new Turkish winger, who has scored four goals in 17 appearances in Serie A.

Team form and quotes

The Romans are on a three-match winning streak heading into the tie and sit third in the Serie A standings, albeit 15 points off second-place Juventus. Having been placed in Group C with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid and came out on top, the Giallorossi will see no reason why they aren’t favourites to progress to the Quarter-Finals.

Shakhtar are top of the Ukrainian Premier League standings, but have a fight on their hands in the domestic league with Dynamo Kiev breathing down their necks. Like their opponents, they did well to emerge in second place from a group containing Manchester City and Italian table-toppers Napoli, going through to this round at the expense of the latter after beating them at home despite losing away in Naples.

Speaking of their home, Shakhtar are still playing their football at the Oblastny SportKomplex Metalist due to the ongoing conflict with Russia in the Donbass region, which forced them to abandon their usual stadium, the Donbass Arena.

Shakhtar’s Argentina forward Facundo Ferreyra spoke ahead of the match, rating their chances as 50/50 because: “Roma are a very good team but we believe in our strength and condition.

“When we drew Roma, I thought that at this stage of the Champions League all of the teams are strong,” Ferreyra said. “Whether it’s Roma or any other team, we will do our best, just as we did in the group stage and that brought us results.

“The team have been preparing very well. The motivation is great. We know that we are facing a crucial game for both the whole team and the fans, and we want to please them.

“I know that they had a very strong group including Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, although they managed to advance from the group in the top spot. This proves that they are really strong.”

Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco, meanwhile, said that his team are entering the match in good form, and also praised the impact of their new signing from Turkey.

“Our strength must lie in our organisation and togetherness,” said Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco. “We’ve been looking a lot better lately and I hope that improvement continues tomorrow.

“Cengiz [Under] has shown his extraordinary ability in recent games and played a key role for us. We’ll try to use his talent the best we can – but Roma are a team and we all need to play with the utmost determination.”

Team news

Roma are without Rick Karsdorp and Maxime Gonalons through injury, while left-back Jonathan Silva is cup-tied after featuring for Sporting Lisbon earlier in the campaign.

For Shakhtar, Bernard is a slight doubt with a shoulder injury, but the Ukrainians look to have an otherwise full squad to choose from.