Konyaspor vs Shakhtar Europa League Preview

Konyaspor vs Shakhtar Europa League Preview

Konyaspor vs Shakhtar Donetsk will be the second time in this Europa League season that Shakhtar will travel to Turkey. Shakhtar Donetsk eliminated the Turkish Süper Lig club Medipol Başakşehir 4-1 on aggregate in the UEFA Europa League playoffs.

Despite reaching the group stage of the Europa League in convincing fashion against the Istanbul based team Başakşehir, Europa League football is a bit of a disappointment for Shakhtar Donetsk.

Indeed, Shakhtar, who seemed to have a subscription for Champions League football (the Ukrainians took part in six consecutive appearances in the UEFA Champions League group stage) fell to Young Boys Bern after a dramatic penalty shootout in the third round of the qualification stage (read our Shakhtar Donetsk’s Europa League preview here).

Hence, the Ukrainians will have to content themselves with Europa League football instead. First up will be Konyaspor, which might very well be the whipping boys of Group H, which also includes SC Braga and KAA Gent.

Yet, new Shakhtar Donetsk coach, Paulo Fonseca, would do well not to underestimate the Central Anatolian side from Konya. With a population of 1.2 million people, Konya was ranked among the Anatolian Tigers—a term used to explain the phenomenal economic growth of a number of cities in Turkey since the 1980s—and the city is home to a number of industrial conglomerates.

Konyaspor, meanwhile, has, for most of its history, played only a minor role in Turkish football. Founded in 1922 as Konya Gençlerbirliği, the club underwent several mergers in its history and was finally reformed as Konyaspor in 1981, and has since become the principal club of the city.

The team has also been a bit of a yoyo club, moving back and forward between the Süper Lig and the TFF First League (second division). Their latest spell in the Süper Lig has lasted since 2013, and the club finished 11th in 2014, eighth in 2015, and finally managed a sensational third place finish behind the Turkish giants Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe in 2016.

The club has also recently moved into the brand new Konya Büyükşehir Belediyesi Stadyumu, which has a capacity of 42,276 and underlines the ambitions of a club that wants to continue to play for the very top of the Süper Lig table.

Shakhtar Donetsk are determined to wrestle away the league title from their eternal rival Dynamo Kyiv. The two clubs met on Friday, and drew 1-1 in a heated derby, which means that Shakhtar are now three points clear of Dynamo on top of the table.

But, aside from winning the Ukrainian Premier League title, Shakhtar also want to repeat last season’s success in the Europa League when they reached the semi-final of the competition—where they were eliminated by the eventual champions Sevilla (3-5 on aggregate). Indeed Shakhtar had won the competition’s predecessor, the UEFA Cup, in 2009, and Paulo Fonseca’s men are looking to repeat the 2009 UEFA Cup run this season.

Their recent domestic form, in particular, suggests that Shakhtar’s players have now become used to Fonseca’s style of football, and the Ukrainians should be the clear favourites on Thursday when they travel to Konya to face Konyaspor.

Possible Line-ups


Formation: 4-2-3-1

Kirintili – Douglas, Vukovic, Turan, Skubic – Jönsson, Camdali – Hadiahmetović, Milosević, Sahiner – Bajić


Shakhtar Donetsk:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Pyatov – Ismaily, Rakitsky, Kucher, Srna – Stepanenko, Fred – Bernard, Kovalenko, Marlos – Ferreyra

 Manager: Paulo Fonseca

By Manuel Veth –