Spanish champions Barcelona have made a solid start to La Liga this season. Similarly, Shakhtar are champions of the Ukrainian top division and have made a similar strong start to the season.
Barcelona kicked off their season with a draw against Getafe. Emotions and tempers were flaring in that particular game, which led to the dismissal of head coach Xavi and winger Raphinha during the game. In the first home game of the season, Barcelona were made to work by Cadiz, but in the end, goals from Pedri and Ferran Torres in the dying embers got them their three points.
Up next was the trip to Villarreal, and the game lived up to its billing as it finished in a seven-goal thriller. 16-year-old Yamal Lamine, who would later debut for Spain, was the show’s star as he linked up beautifully with Gavi for the opener while also playing a part in another goal. In that game, Robert Lewandowski got his first goal of the season, while Torres made it two goals in two games.
The Blaugrana began the month of September on a winning note, and it was not a commanding display, but they still managed to get over the line. They defeated Osasuna 2-1 in Pamplona. Jules Kounde scored the opening goal of the game—his first for the season—before the home side equalised in the second half.
However, Lewandowski had the final say on the game as he scored a late penalty to secure back-to-back wins for his side for the first time this campaign.
Shakhtar Donetsk has been more occupied in the league than in Europe lately. After last season’s title win, they started this term on a winning note, beating Oleksandriya 2-1. Shakhtar and Kryvdas shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller in their second league game of the season in a game of three red cards. Shakhtar had a player sent off for the second game running but still went ahead to win 2-0 against Kolos Kovalivka. A 4-1 thumping of Minaj followed before a hard-fought 1-0 win over Obolon ahead of their UEFA Champions League opener against FC Porto in Germany. That UCL opener ended on a losing note as they suffered a 3-1 defeat, with all the goals coming in the first half. Back to action on the home front, the Miners played out a 1-1 draw with Rukh Lviv.
Barcelona are seasoned campaigners in this competition, as this is their 28th Champions League campaign; no other side has more. Additionally, they’ve participated in every campaign since 2004/05, making it their 20th consecutive appearance in the competition. Shakhtar are regulars in this competition but have yet to pass the quarter-final stage. However, they conquered the Europa League in 2009 and hope for a memorable run this year.
Porto and Barcelona are in the driving seat of this group, while Shakhtar will have to contend with Royal Antwerp for a third-place finish that can at least get them a shot in the Europa League.
Joao Felix loves life in Barcelona and probably plays his best football since leaving Benfica some years ago. Barcelona have shown that they have goals in them, which starkly contrasts with what we saw last year.
Playing at Estadi Olímpic will not make any difference as Barcelona are expected to win this game comfortably. However, Shakhtar, who have beaten the Spanish giants in this competition before, will be hopeful they can spring a surprise.
The match at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in Barcelona kicks off on Wednesday, 25th September, at 5:45 PM UK time, and it will be shown live on TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport), with coverage starting from around 5 PM.
Barcelona played poorly in the UEFA Champions League last season, which saw them drop to the Europa League. They look much in a better state this season and expect the 54,367-capacity stadium to be packed for this one. Meanwhile, several Shakhtar fans might make it to this game despite the ongoing tensions in Ukraine.
Barcelona are not playing at Camp Nou this season, and the stadium they have settled for is almost 40 thousand smaller than their usual home. With that in mind, getting tickets for FC Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk tickets could be challenging. Hence, you are advised to search ticket reselling sites should they be expectedly sold out on each club’s channels.
Although several players could be nursing a knock or some other short-term injury, Barcelona has no significant injury. Their full-strength squad is expected to be fielded by Xavi as he hopes to keep his side’s winning momentum going. Felix looks undroppable, so he should get another starting berth in this competition.
FC Barcelona: ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Pedri, Romeu, Gundogan; Gavi, Lewandowski, Felix.
Shakhtar have several players that need to be added for them. The likes of Bondar, Chygrynskiy and Matviienko are currently nursing varying degrees of injuries. Will they be fit enough for this trip to Barcelona? Kelsy, who got their first goal in this competition this season, is expected to lead the line again, supported by the likes of Zubkov and Sikan.
Shakhtar: Riznyk; Konopla, Lemkin, Rakitskyi, Miroshi; Stepanenko; Zubkov, Nazaryna, Sudakov, Sikan; Kelsy.
Barcelona confidently strolled past Royal Antwerp 5-0 in their group opener. It was a masterclass from Felix as he scored twice and turned provider for Lewandowski, and he was subsequently named the player of the match after the game.
Barcelona have shown that they can score many goals this term, especially at home. Interestingly, Shakhtar has also been scoring in all their games this season, and they even scored against Porto on match day one, although it ended in a defeat.
The past six meetings in the UEFA Champions League between Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk have produced a winner, with four wins for the Spanish side and two for the Ukrainian giants.
FC Barcelona 3-1 Shakhtar Donetsk