With the odds stacked against Shakhtar Donetsk following their 5-1 loss to Barcelona last week, Mircea Lucescu wants his players to enjoy their quarter-final decider and gain more “priceless experience” for their likely return to the Champions League next season. Though the Shakhtar coach admitted his side have a “very small” chance of progressing, opposite number Josep Guardiola repeated his belief that the tie is not already won.
Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar coach
We have huge problems in defence. [Răzvan] Raţ is suspended, [Dmytro] Chygrynskiy still isn’t ready and [Olexandr] Chyzhov and [Olexandr] Kucher haven’t completed their recoveries yet. It looks like [Mykola] Ishchenko will play. As you may remember, he played against Barcelona at home two-and-half years ago.
I hope the players will do their best to get a proper result. Of course, our chances of getting through are very small, but we want to find a decent way out of this difficult situation. This Champions League season is priceless experience for us. We have learned many important things that will help us to develop further. We lost in London against Arsenal and at [the] Camp Nou not because of the low level of our team.
Shakhtar have strong and talented players, but in Barcelona we took to the pitch with thoughts that they are much stronger than we are. In the first leg, we gave them three presents. It’s a mistake to think Barcelona are strong [purely] because of their star players. Josep Guardiola has organised his team perfectly.
Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
We will play in our usual style, though some details will depend on Shakhtar’s tactics. Tomorrow’s game won’t be a training session before Saturday’s match at Real Madrid. Despite a 5-1 defeat, Lucescu’s side is very strong; otherwise they would not have reached the quarter-finals.
A serious test awaits us. We should complete our task in the Champions League before preparing for the Santiago Bernabéu. I want to repeat, again, that the tie is not already won. Anything is possible in football, but we will work hard to prevent Shakhtar pulling off a miracle.
Lucescu said there is a “20% chance” Darijo Srna will be fit after the captain suffered a thigh injury at the weekend. Dmytro Chygrynskiy (ankle) is likely to miss out against his former club for the second time, while Olexandr Kucher (knee) and Olexandr Chyzhov are also unavailable. Luiz Adriano is a doubt due to a muscle problem and Răzvan Raţ is banned.
Carles Puyol and Bojan Krkićhave not travelled to Ukraine. The former has been sidelined by a left knee problem since 22 January, while Bojan suffered ligament damage to his left knee on Saturday and has been ruled out for six to eight weeks. Andrés Iniesta is suspended.
With the game against Real Madrid at the weekend, I expect Pepe Guardiola to rest some of his stars against Shakhtar. With a four goal cushion he can afford to do that. With more squad players playing, I will not be surprised to see Shakhtar win on the night and Barca to move onto the semi-finals.
Score: Shakhtar 2 Barcelona 1