Prior to the season, Shakhtar Donetsk were forced to flee their home city of Donetsk because of warring in the city and it seemed like they would slip on the field as a result. "How could a team on the run succeed?" the thinking went. Yet here they are, using Lviv as a temportary home and on the second to last Champions League group stage matchday they can clinch their spot in the round of 16. All they need is a win and they are in.
The Ukrainian side's run this season has been remarkable and the complete opposite of what has happened in Bilbao. There, Athletic's fantastic run to fourth place last season has been marred by a terrible Champions League this season. They are at the bottom of Group H on one measly point and have been eliminated from the competition already. The best that they could hope for at this point is third place group finish and a spot in the Europa League.
Shakhtar and Athletic met on the first matchday, and Shakhtar came away with a scoreless draw at the San Mames. It was a surprising and impressive showing at the time, but as Athletic have struggled, it has instead looked like Shakhtar simply did their jobs. With a draw in Spain already in the bag, Shakhtar now get to host Athletic in their adopted home of Lviv, where they hope to celebrate a knockout stage place.
Key player - Luiz Adriano (Shakhtar)
The Brazilian is the Champions League's top scorer with nine goals, four better than second place Karim Benzema. He has been phenomenal, and most amazingly he has done almost all of his goalscoring in the last two matches with five goals in Shakhtar's first match against BATE, then three more the following match.
Key matchup - Shakhtar's attack vs. the center of Athletic's defense
Luiz Adriano has been undeniably great, but the Shakhtar attack is not just up top. They are among the best in Europe at getting midfielders into the attack with runs from deep and it's really difficult for not just centerbacks, but opposing midfielders to pick them up. The middle of Athletic's team will have to be organized and smart about picking up those late runners, especially on the counterattack, or Shakhtar might put three or four goals past them.
Shakhtar injuries and suspensions
Out: Serhiy Kryvtsov (ankle). Doubt: Marcio Azevedo (knee).
Athletic injuries and suspensions
Out: Guillermo Fernandez (jhmstring). Doubt: Aritz Adruiz (hamstring), Andoni Iraola (hamstring).
Venue: Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine
TV: DirecTV Soccer (U.S.), Sky Sports red button (U.K.), C+ (Spain), 2+2 (Ukraine)
Online: Watch ESPN, Fox Soccer 2 Go (USA), Sky Go (UK), Sportsnet World Now (Canada)