Manuel Veth –
Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Tuesday, November 27, 20:00GMT/21:00CET – Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim, Germany
It was a spectacular game between Champions League newcomers Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday 1. Hoffenheim had taken the lead twice thanks to goals by Florian Grillitsch, (5′) and Havard Nordtveit (38′) but Ismaily (27′) and Maycon (81′) managed to equalise in what was a spectacular fashion.
Since that match both Hoffenheim and Shakhtar struggled and are fast running out of time to kick-start their flagging UEFA Champions League campaigns as they meet in the penultimate round of Group F fixtures.
Hoffenheim will be out of contention for a top-two finish if they lose, or if they draw and Lyon avoid defeat at home to City. A win keeps Hoffenheim in contention regardless of the other result.
On Saturday Hoffenheim faced Hertha Berlin in a game that was very much reminiscent of the first leg against Shakhtar Donetsk. Hoffenheim were up by two goals twice but failed to win the match having to make do with a 3-3 draw and instead with fourth-place in the Bundesliga one spot ahead of Bayern die Kraichgauer are one point behind Bayern in the sixth spot.
“It is one of our biggest problems this season,” Kerem Demirbay explains, “we score a lot of goals, but we concede too many goals.” Hoffenheim want to finish at least third to qualify for the later stages of the Europa League. “If we don’t concede we win the match on Tuesday,” Demirbay concluded.
A victory by Hoffenheim will put Shakhtar out of contention for a top-two finish if Lyon win or if both games are drawn. Shakhtar will be confirmed in fourth place if they lose. On a first glance shutting down Shakhtar does not sound like an easy task.
Shakhtar have scored 38 goals in the Ukrainian Premier Liga this season. Furthermore, head coach Paulo Fonseca’s brand of football is one of the most attractive in Europe. But Shakhtar have been without Ukrainian national team player Marlos for the last few weeks.
The Brazilian born Ukrainian national team player, however, is key for how Shakhtar play. An attacking winger by trade Marlos plays an essential role in Fonseca’s tactical setup. The forward moves between the three attacking positions and is more of a playmaker than a traditional winger. Without him, Shakhtar have lost 0-3 and 0-6 to Manchester City and also managed just a 0-0 draw against newly promoted FK Lviv on Friday.
Although Shakhtar dominate the UPL at will in Europe it has somewhat become apparent that this year Fonseca is somewhat rebuilding his side, the club signed young Brazilians Fernando, Maycon and Marquinhos Cipriano this summer to offset the departure of Brazilian Fred to Manchester United.
As a result, Shakhtar’s Champions League troubles this season are not surprising. But at the same time, Fonseca is a talented coach that like Julian Nagelsmann has several tactical tricks up his sleeve. Hence, this will be a fascinating game with plenty of goals in the cards on both sides.
Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Players to look out for:
Joelinton #34 – Hoffenheim
Joelinton has been a key player for Hoffenheim this season. The Brazilian forward returned from his loan stint at Rapid Wien. Although he was not a prolific goalscorer in Austria Hoffenheim saw something special in the Brazilian. A tall and powerful footballer with tons of pace with an ability to hold onto the ball in key situations Joelinton has been a cross between a holding striker and playmaker for die Kraichgauer this season.
Junior Moraes #10 – Shakhtar Donetsk
Junior Moraes has been a goal machine since he joined Shakhtar this summer in a controversial transfer from the Miner’s biggest rivals Dynamo Kyiv. Junior Moraes has scored 11 goals in 14 Ukrainian Premier Liga games. He has also scored two goals in four Champions League games. But without Marlos Moraes has been somewhat ineffective for the Miners and key for Fonseca will be to get the Brazilian back on the scoresheet.
Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Match Stats
- Die Kraichgauer have won only one of their 12 European matches, home and away. Both they and their opponents have scored at least once in all 12 of those games. Having lost the first four, they have been beaten only twice in the last eight.
- Shakhtar lost three of their four away games in last season’s competition, the exception a 2-1 success at Feyenoord on matchday three. They had won their previous five away games – all in the UEFA Europa League – before 2017/18.
- The Ukrainian side have got out of their group in three of their last five participations.
- This is only the second time Shakhtar have been drawn alongside German opposition in the UEFA Champions League group stage; they picked up a single point from their two games against Bayer Leverkusen in 2013/14 (0-4 away, 0-0 home).
- Shakhtar have lost only one of their last six games against German clubs, home and away (W1 D4). Their record in away games with Bundesliga clubs is W3 D1 L5, a 3-0 win at Schalke in February 2016, their most recent, ending a run of three successive defeats in which they scored no goals and conceded 14, including a record 7-0 defeat at Bayern München in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk – 3-2
Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Lineups
Baumann – Akpoguma, Vogt, Bicakcic – N. Schulz, Nordtveit, Kaderabek – Kramaric, Demirbay – Joelinton, Szalai
Head Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Pyatov – Ismaily, Rakitskiy, Khocholava, Butko – Stepanenko, Maycon – Bolbat, Taison, Kovalenko – Junior Moraes
Head Coach: Paulo Fonseca
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.