Venue: Donbass Arena
Date: Tuesday 23 October 2012
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
No doubt the focus tonight will be on John Terry and his armband but since I really can’t be bothered with the pantomime anymore, I thought I’d just get on with a quick preview if that’s ok?
After the pretty special football we were treated to in the Premier League at the weekend, it’s back to the Champions League tonight and Shakhtar Donetsk. And whilst we might be the current Champions of Europe (that never tires!), it’s all square between us in the group with us both having drawn against Juventus and beating FC Nordsjaelland so far. Predicting a winner here is harder than winning online roulette at your online casino of choice, although, just like casino games, there’s always easy bets to be had in football. Here you can expect Chelsea to fail to keep a clean sheet, and the gambler’s question of the day is – how many goals can Chelsea score?
In their own league, Shakhtar sit 12 points clear at the top whilst we, as we know have a 4 point gap at the top of the Premier League, so it doesn’t look like an easy night for either of us really.
I don’t know much about Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu although he went up in my estimation for his comments about Spurs alone, saying ahead of tonight’s game “I don’t really care about the entertainment aspect of our game right now, because our main goal is to get three points. F
or the first time since I came to Shakhtar, we are playing against the European champions. This obviously provides a perfect motivation for the players, as it’s a big honour for our city and our club. I don’t want to talk a lot about their game on Saturday, because I think that at the moment we are stronger than Tottenham.”
Roberto Di Matteo meanwhile, as ever respectful of his opposite number says “I remember Mircea Lucescu’s work in Italy very well. All his teams stuck to the same philosophy – they always try to play possession football. You can see how Shakhtar pass the ball. You can see the structure of the team.
They are very good tactically and they have a lot of quick players. Lucescu is an excellent coach with huge experience, and he has done very well at Shakhtar.”
Whilst on his own team, the Chelsea boss says “I’m just happy to working with my players. I have this club in my heart. I think that these players deserve all the credit after an extremely difficult season last time out. Now we have integrated new players in our system. I’m here to help, and to do my job as well as I can, and I hope that will continue for a long time.”
For Shakhtar there’s no reported injuries, with Mircea Lucescu having a full squad available to him.
For Chelsea, Roberto Di Matteo also has a full squad to choose from, with John Terry (and his armband) likely to play having sat on the FA’s naughty step for the game against Spurs.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Romeu, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Moses, Sturridge, Torres, Turnbull.
After the weekend, it’d be easy to get carried away and assume we could take all three points with ease tonight but Shakhtar can be a difficult side to break down – plus they’re better than Spurs – so we might have to settle for a slightly less sparkling performance and a lot less to shout about if they’re in the mood for a game.