Preview: Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk

Roma Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk will be looking to continue their dominance over Roma when the two teams battle it out for a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

UEFA Champions League
14 March 2018
Round of 16, second leg
Kick-off: 03H45 HKT
Venue: Stadio Olimpico

Referee: A. Mallenco
Assistants: R. Alonso, J. Yuste
Fourth official: R. Cabanero

Head-to-head summary

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Roma 5 1 0 4
Shakhtar 5 4 0 1

Previous encounter

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Roma 21/02/2018 (Champions League)

Shakhtar goalscorers: F. Ferreyra (52′), Fred (71′)
Roma goalscorers: C. Under (41′)

Players to watch

Edin Dzeko isn’t in the best form for the Giallorossi, although he remains their top scorer this season with 16 goals and bagged a brace against Napoli in his last outing. The Bosnian striker has scored just five times in 10 appearances since the turn of the year.

Facundo Ferreyra is the danger man for Shakhtar, as the Italian club found out in the first leg when the Argentine forward cancelled out Cengiz Under’s opener. Ferreyra has notched 19 goals in 23 league games this term, with another three coming in the UEFA Champions League.

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Team form and manager quotes

The Giallorossi bagged a valuable away goal in the first leg in Ukraine, where they led 1-0 at half-time, but a second-half fightback from Shakhtar saw them score twice to clinch a 2-1 victory.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are well out of the Serie A title race as they sit 15 points adrift of leaders Juventus in third place, although they dented Napoli’s Scudetto hopes with a 4-2 win at Stadio San Paolo last weekend.

Since losing to the Ukrainian champions, Roma suffered a 0-2 defeat to Milan in the league, but they bounced back with successive victories over the Azzurri and most recently Torino (3-0).

Di Francesco admits mistakes were made in the first leg and wants his players to pitch up in both halves this time around as they attempt to overturn a one-goal deficit.

“It’s certainly a big game for us lads and for Roma. We could reach the quarter-finals for only the fourth time in this club’s history,” the Italian said in his pre-match press conference.

“We can’t take to the field thinking playing 45 minutes is enough. I hope all that we’ve done, alternating good and bad performances, can level out now because this is a game we can’t mess up.

“Obviously we’re up against strong opponents, but we want to advance and we won’t do that playing just one half. I want to see continuity from my team.

“Even if we go ahead, I want us to keep our shape and balance. We made some mistakes, not just individually but as a team, in the first leg and we can’t afford to do that again.”

Meanwhile, the Miners have yet to drop any points in the league since returning from the mid-season break, with four resounding victories seeing them score 16 goals while conceding none.

The defending champions have opened up a six-point gap to second-placed Dynamo Kyiv and enter the midweek European encounter in imperious form.

Shakhtar manager Paulo Fonseca is under no illusion as to the tough task facing his team in the Eternal City, admitting the key to success is being resolute in defence.

“It’s going to be a very difficult game because Roma won a group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid so they are tough to face, and they’ve won five out of six games recently. But my team is motivated,” Fonseca told the press on Monday.

“My team’s in great shape, mentally and physically. Roma are a very strong side and they’re going to try to put us under pressure from the start. We’re going to have to be very strong at the back to withstand that.”

Team news

Gregoire Defrel did not train on Monday due to a muscular injury which is expected to keep the French forward out of contention.

Luca Pellegrini continues his rehabilitation from a fractured kneecap, while Rick Karsdorp remains a long-term absentee with ruptured cruciate ligaments.

The visitors have a near full compliment of players, with just Maksym Malyshev injured and Darijo Srna missing out through suspension.

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