Mark Temnycky –
Shakhtar vs Wolfsburg – Wednesday, 5 August 2020 – 17:55 GMT/18:55 CEST – Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kyiv, Ukraine
After a five-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Europa League has returned. Shakhtar Donetsk will host Wolfsburg on Wednesday in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie.
Shakhtar Donetsk fared well after the restart of the Ukrainian Premier Liha. The Miners went on to win seven of their remaining nine matches, and they retained the UPL title for a fourth consecutive season. Having won the 2019/20 UPL, this will bode well for Shakhtar’s confidence going into this Europa League match.
Shakhtar are fortunate to have nearly a fully fit squad for the second leg of this tie. They will be without the injured Ismaily, but Serhiy Bolbat has done well to replace the Brazilian in the left-back position. Bolbat has also played in previous Champions League and Europa League matches, thus he is familiar with what is at stake.
With the conclusion of the 2019/20 UPL season, Shakhtar will have nothing to lose as they look to progress to the Europa League Quarterfinals. The Miners have shown their resilience throughout the Champions League and Europa League this season, where they earned results against Atalanta, Dinamo Zagreb, and Manchester City in the Champions League group stages, and they eliminated Benfica in the Europa League’s Round of 32. Overall, the Ukrainians should be well prepared for their upcoming match against the Germans.
Wolfsburg, on the other hand, struggled after the Bundesliga’s restart in May. With nine league games remaining, the Wolves only won four of these nine matches. They also kept one clean sheet during this process. With these performances, Wolfsburg barely secured qualification for European football, having earned the final European spot in the 2019/20 Bundesliga.
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As for the remainder of the 2019/20 Europa League, Wolfsburg find themselves behind in the tie. Their opponents lead the tie 2-1 on aggregate, where the Ukrainians scored two crucial away goals. Wolfsburg failed to convert their opportunities in the game, as they outshot Shakhtar during this match, and the Germans are now plagued with a series of absentees for this upcoming second leg.
Finally, Wolfsburg’s last competitive game was held on 27 June. Meanwhile, Shakhtar’s last competitive match was 19 July. Given this three-week period, it could be argued that the Ukrainians will be better prepared than the Germans, thus giving the Miners an advantage.
Shakhtar vs Wolfsburg – Players to Watch:
Marcos Antônio #8 – Shakhtar Donetsk
Marcos Antônio scored Shakhtar’s crucial second goal in the first leg of this tie. The Brazilian has fared well since his arrival to Ukraine in February 2019. The young midfielder has started to establish himself in the team, and the Brazilian will hope to add to his Europa League goal tally as his side prepare for this Europa League fixture. Will he be Shakhtar’s talisman in this match?
Koen Casteels #1 – Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg had a strong finish to the season, the Germans won four of their remaining nine matches and qualified for the Europa League. The Wolves also kept one clean sheet during this period. Should Wolfsburg hope to progress to the Europa League Quarterfinals, goalkeeper Koen Casteels must do better. Shakhtar are a dangerous side and the Ukrainians will surely test Casteels in goal. Simply put, if the Belgian fails to keep out his opposition, Wolfsburg will be eliminated from the competition. Will Casteels overcome this pressure?
Shakhtar vs Wolfsburg – Match Statistics:
- Shakhtar Donetsk lead Wolfsburg 2-1 on aggregate after the Miners defeated the Wolves in Germany back in March 2020.
- Shakhtar Donetsk’s Ismaily is injured and will not feature in this match.
- Wolfsburg will miss several of their players. Paulo Otávio, William, Admir Mehmedi, and Ignacio Camacho are injured. Kevin Mbabu is doubtful as he has contracted the coronavirus and is in self-quarantine. Renato Steffen is suspended.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Shakhtar vs Wolfsburg – 2-1
Shakhtar vs Wolfsburg – Possible Lineups:
Pyatov – Dodô, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Bolbat – Antônio, Stepanenko – Tetê, Marlos, Taison – Moraes
Manager: Luís Castro
Casteels – Tisserand, Pongračić, Brooks, Roussillon – Marmoush, Schlager, Arnold, Brekalo – Weghorst, Ginczek
Manager: Oliver Glasner
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky