Mark Temnycky –
Wolfsburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Thursday, 12 March 2020 – 20:00 GMT/21:00 CET – Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany
The 2019/20 UEFA Europa League is underway. German club Wolfsburg will host Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of the competition’s Round of 16.
Wolfsburg performed well in the group stages of the Europa League this season, where the Germans finished second in their group. After overcoming the likes of Belgian team Gent, French club Saint-Étienne and Ukrainian side Olexandriya, Wolfsburg advanced to the Europa League’s Round of 32. The Germans were then paired with Swedish team Malmö, and once again Wolfsburg advanced with ease.
Despite their strong showing in the Europa League, Wolfsburg has struggled in the Bundesliga this season. They currently sit in seventh place and are outside of the European places awarded to the German clubs for next season. Moreover, they were eliminated from the German Cup competition after RB Leipzig humiliated them in the DFB-Pokal’s second round.
In other words, Wolfsburg are unlikely to win any domestic competitions this season, meaning the Europa League may be their best bet for silverware. In order to achieve this goal, the Germans will have to overcome Shakhtar Donetsk in the upcoming Round of 16 tie.
Meanwhile, Shakhtar Donetsk have had a mixed campaign in Ukraine. Shakhtar are currently fourteen points ahead in the Ukrainian Premier Liha, and the Miners look certain to win the UPL this season. They did, however, miss out on the Ukrainian Super Cup and the Ukrainian Cup this season. Nonetheless, Shakhtar will be content to settle for the UPL, as this will grant them an appearance in next season’s Champions League group stage.
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Shakhtar will now divert their efforts to the next round of the Europa League. Assuming the Ukrainians win the UPL, Shakhtar know they have nothing to lose as they prepare to face Wolfsburg on Thursday. The Ukrainians are no strangers to the competition, as they won the Europa League during the 2008/09 season, and now would be as good a time as any to try and win the competition again.
Overall, Shakhtar should be prepared for this fixture. After a strong showing against the likes of Manchester City, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta in the Champions League, and after seeing off Benfica in the Europa League’s Round of 32, the Ukrainians will be ready. It will be a difficult match, but they will look to put on a strong performance in this tie. How will these teams fare in the first leg of the Europa League’s Round of 16?
Wolfsburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Players to Watch:
Wout Weghorst #9 – Wolfsburg
Wout Weghorst is Wolfsburg’s highest scorer this season, and the German club will look to their Dutch striker to perform in this Round of 16 tie. The Dutchman has yet to score in the Europa League this season, but there is a first time for everything. Weghorst will hope to overcome this goal-scoring drought as his club host Shakhtar on Thursday.
Maycon #27 – Shakhtar Donetsk
With the absence of Alan Patrick and Taras Stepanenko, Shakhtar Donetsk will turn to Maycon to take charge of the midfield. Maycon has yet to feature in a European match this season, and this could be a nervy introduction for the midfielder. Nonetheless, the young Brazilian will want to be at his best as Shakhtar look to earn a result in Wolfsburg on Thursday.
Wolfsburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Match Statistics:
- This is the first meeting between these two clubs. Coincidentally, they were both eliminated by Fulham during the knockout stages of the 2009/10 Europa League.
- Wolfsburg are without the injured Ignacio Camacho, Joshua Guilavogui, Kevin Mbabu and William.
- Shakhtar Donetsk’s Dentinho, Manor Solomon and Taras Stepanenko are injured.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Wolfsburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk – 2-2
Wolfsburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Possible Lineups:
Casteels – Steffen, Knoche, Brooks, Silva – Arnold, Schlager, Gerhardt – Mehmedi, Weghorst, Brekalo
Manager: Oliver Glasner
Pyatov – Dodô, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Ismaily – Antônio, Maycon – Tetê, Marlos, Taison – Moraes
Manager: Luís Castro
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