Sports Mole preview Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Shakhtar Donetsk take charge Celtic in group F of Champions League Wednesday, with the game taking place at the Polish Army Stadium in Warsaw due to the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
Shakhtar recorded an impressive 4-1 victory over RB Leipzig last week, while Celtic were beaten 3-0 by defending champions Real Madrid.
Considering the number of key players Shakhtar have lost as a partial consequence of the war, their beating of Leipzig came as a shock to many observers, while providing a huge boost to anyone connected with the club.
Maryan Shved robbed the Leipzig goalkeeper Pierre Gulasci off the ball and pushed into an empty net to give the visitors a half-time lead, which had come almost completely against the run of play, before the winger restored Shakhtar’s lead less than 60 seconds later mohamed simakan had equalized the debates in the 57th minute.
As the Germans push for another equaliser, Mykhaylo Mudryk and replace Lassina Traore capitalized on increasingly open spaces behind their opponents’ high defensive line to add shine to a notable victory, especially given the circumstances in their home country.
Shakhtar are used to playing away now, of course, having been unable to play at the Donbass Arena since May 2014 after Russia’s first attacking moves in the region. However, after moving to Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv, they are now forced to play entirely abroad, with each of these regions considered too dangerous to host football matches in major UEFA competitions.
How they adapt to their surroundings in Warsaw could prove crucial in determining their chances of progressing from the group stage for the first time since 2018. If they beat Celtic on Wednesday to move to six points, they will have great odds against all the odds.
Celtic, meanwhile, are in the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign, having dropped out in the qualifying rounds in each of the four interim seasons.
However, with the increase in the Scottish coefficient, the Hoops automatically qualified for the group stage after reclaiming their Scottish Premiership title from Rangers last season.
As such, last week’s visit by 14-time champions Real Madrid to Celtic Park was a great sight, especially considering it only happened three days after. Angel PostecoglouThe team had beaten their fiercest rivals 4-0 on the same ground.
The Scottish champions have clearly gained confidence to watch the most impressive side in the opening stages against Real, with Callum McGregor shaking the woodwork with a superb blow from afar, before Daizen Maeda squandered a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock just moments after half-time.
However, perhaps such a big chance came too quickly after their all-important league clash against Rangers, as they were visibly tired of controlling the actual wrestling of the match as they so often do with their game of patient ownership. Vinicius Junior, Luc Modric and replace Eden Hazard all registered on the score sheet to make a rather hard score at the end.
The unfortunate defeat puts enormous pressure on Celtic to return from Poland with a positive result or else they could watch their European campaign turn into something of a wet squib even at this early stage of the competition.
Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League form:
Form of Shakhtar Donetsk (all competitions):
Celtic Champions League form:
Celtic form (all competitions):
Shakhtar will remain without a back Viktor Kornienkowho is not expected to return until next year after suffering a cruciate ligament rupture.
The head coach Igor Jovicevic is unlikely to make any changes from the starting XI that swept Leipzig last week, with Traore likely to be called upon to make an impact from the bench again.
Celtic, meanwhile, are expected to travel to Poland without Yosuke Ideguchi and Carl Starfelt due to injuries.
After having the weekend due to the Queen’s death, fatigue shouldn’t be a problem for visitors, with Postecoglou potentially restoring Kyōgo Furuhashi to the team at the expense of Giorgos Giakoumakis in attack.
Possible starting line-up of Shakhtar Donetsk:
Troubin; L Taylor, Bondar, Matviyenko, Konoplya; Bondarenko, Stepanenko, Sudakov; Shved, Zubkov, Mudryk
Celtic’s possible starting roster:
Stag; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, G Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Hatate; Abada, Furuhashi, Jota
We say: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Celtic
We expect to see a reaction from the visitors, who produced excellent football at times despite ultimately failing against Real Madrid.
This game is mostly played in neutral territory which could help Postecoglou’s side settle in and play their usual style of play, especially with Shakhtar unlikely to replicate another standout performance.
For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.