Trips to Ukraine are never easy for opposition football teams. Paris Saint-Germain will be welcomed to a hostile Donbass Arena to face a Shakhtar Donetsk side who can give any top class side a game on their home patch during a European night.
This is a massive week coming up for Les Parisiens with the ‘classique’ on the horizon (Sunday). The biggest game in the domestic French calendar and of course for the supporters of both football clubs. Like ourselves, l’OM will be contesting in a European fixture as they will take on Czech side Slovan Liberac at the Stade Velodrome on Thursday. That gives them a day less than ourselves to recuperate but when you consider the travelling PSG’s players will have done this week, it makes no odds really. It will be a level playing field come kick-off at the Parc des Princes.
We head into tonight’s game coming off the back of a 1-4 win away to Nantes in what was a strange game. We were bang average in the first-half, deservedly losing at half-time. Yet without playing particularly well, we still ran out comprehensive victors. I said at the time the scoreline was harsh on les Canaris, as they played their part no doubt. Still you have to applaud the character of the champions to get back into the game and consolidate top spot.
Our Ukrainian hosts sit second in their domestic league at the moment, three points off leaders Dynamo Kiev. The Miners have won five out of their last six with the defeat coming at the hands of a merciless Real Madrid on match-day one of this competition. It is no disgrace by any means but it remonstrates their need for points, especially at home.
Paris’ coach Laurent Blanc expects a tight game. He thinks whoever has the best defence will come out on top. He said in yesterday’s pre-match presser; “It is (defence) an important factor in every match, not just in the Champions League. It’s the basis of any victory. As in every match, we’ll have to defend well when we don’t have the ball. Shakhtar are a very good team, very technical and who have a strong footballing philosophy. They will want to dominate possession and so will we. There are all the ingredients for a good match. Perhaps it will be the team that defends better that will win the match.”
David Luiz has travelled with the squad but it is doubtful that he will start having suffered from a knee complaint. Gregory Van der Wiel has also been struggling with an injury but they are the only notable doubts.
We will fancy our chances to take all three points with the form we are in at the moment, but this is going to be a tough clash. Getting a result there will have the lads bouncing into the classique on Sunday to hopefully give the Parisian faithful bragging rights once again.
We have to go through ‘The Miners’ first though…