The side managed by Mircea Lusescu is dominating the Ukrainian Premier League and has finished second in its Champions League group, a competition in which it has featured every year since 2000
Brazilian Willian is the team’s most in-form player in Europe, with four goals in the last six outings. But it is Henrikh Mkhitaryan who leads the scoring in the domestic championship with 15 goals
In our final article on Barça’s possible opponents in the Champions League, our attention switches to Shakhtar Donetsk, a team that has been improving gradually over the years on the basis of typical Eastern European strength coupled with imported Brazilian flair. Managed by Mircea Lusescu, they have at least made the preliminary phase every year since 2000.
Reigning champs knocked out
The side from the Donbass Arena came second in a tough group to qualify for the last sixteen for the second time in three years with 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats to end on 10 points and condemn defending champions Chelsea to the Europa League.
They have plenty of firepower up front, backed up by some attack-minded midfielders that also supply their fair share of goals and assists. The 12 goals in the first stage were mainly inspired by Willian, with 4 and Luiz Adriano, with 3. Axel Teixeira, Fernandinho and Henrikh Mkhitaryan got the rest, the latter being the side’s top scorer in the national league with 15. Not forgetting a former Barcelona man in Dmytro Chygrynskiy, whose chances outside of the domestic championship have been limited.
Like FC Barcelona, Shakhtar are runaway leaders of the Premier League with just one defeat in the first 18 matches. The orange and blacks are chasing a fourth consecutive Ukrainian title.
Title winning years
In both 2010/11 and 2008/09, Shakhtar met Barça. In the latter season, Barça, managed by Josep Guardiola, put an end to the Ukrainians’ best ever run in Europe with a 5-1 win at the Camp Nou and a 0-1 win at the Donbass Arena, and months later would be lifting the trophy for the fourth time at Wembley.
Two years earlier, in 2008/09, they had met in the groups. Barça won 1-2 on the road but crashed at home, 2-3. That year the Catalans also marched on to collect the trophy, this time in Rome as part of the treble winning season.
Overall, FC Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk have met eight times, with FCB winning five, drawing twice and losing just once. The first meeting was in 1978/79 in the old Cup Winners Cup, when Shakhtar were representing the former Soviet Union. Barça won 3-0 at home and drew 1-1 away, on yet another occasion when they went on to win the trophy.