Real Madrid will host Shakhtar Donetsk tonight for their opening game in the Champions League this season.

Now, Shakhtar Donetsk apparently look (or at least sound like) like a side that needs to be taught some elementary manners on how to play in the Champions League but their recent records have shown that playing them is no child’s play.

They can prove to be a bothersome side even though their team sheet (I had difficulty spelling half of their squad players) looks very undemanding.

As ambitious as Shakhtar Donetsk may be, there are some simple reasons why they will not be able to beat Real Madrid based on the club’s and the tournament’s history. Those reasons are:

  • Real Madrid have lost just two games at home on opening day of the Champions League in the last 45 years.
  • Real Madrid have lost just one game against a Ukrainian side in its history. You could make the argument that Real Madrid have played about 20 games against Ukrainian sides in all of its history
  • Real Madrid have won the last 12 games out of 13 of the Champions League group stages. It is very unlikely that Shakhtar Donetsk will be the side that will make it two losses in the last 14 games for Real Madrid as far as Champions League is concerned.

 

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However, there are some painless things Real Madrid can do to make sure Shakhtar Donetsk becomes just another statistic rather than a history maker.

 

Shakhtar Donetsk Is Just Not Good At Attacking

Shakhtar Donetsk have won just three games out of their last 7 in all competitions. Although they have lost only twice in their last 14 games. the fact is that they struggle to score even against mediocre teams and that too in a mediocre Ukrainian League.

Real Madrid have, individually, a great defense. Sometimes it lack communication and organization but apart from that it is difficult to score against Real Madrid if you don’t have speed in your attack.

Shakhtar Donetsk has a solid defense so that should make the match interesting instead of a pointless game like it was this week against Espanyol for Real Madrid.
I hope Shakhtar Donetsk don’t succumb to the Bernabeu crowd or to the occasion as that would simply ruin the evening for the millions watching around the world on TV (or streaming depending on how you like to pay your bills).

 

Shakhtar Donetsk Have Got Only Two Valuable Players.The Rest Are Also-ran Lightweight Run-of-the-mill Hardworking Average Joes

Basically what that means is that Real Madrid only have to worry about two players in Shakhtar Donetsk.

Those two players are:

  • Alex Teixeira, who is their top attacking threat. He scored a total of 17 goals last season in Ukrainian Premier League and has scored seven goals this season.
    His goal scoring ratio is pretty good. He can score goals with both his feet but his physical stature would see him getting mauled by Pepe or Ramos and Varane depending on who Benitez picks.
  • Viktor Kovalenko is another young player that has potential. He is pretty inexperienced and for I all know might not even get a start against Real Madrid but he is one of those players who can have influence on the pitch.
    His passing range is acceptable and the accuracy of his passes is exceptional. He can run in the midfield and close down other players and has a admirable touch on the ball. Will he get a chance against Real Madrid? We’ll see tonight.

 

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The Key Would Be ‘Focus’ For Real Madrid

No prizes for guessing that Real Madrid’s biggest threat tonight would be Real Madrid, not Shakhtar Donetsk.

Shakhtar Donetsk might have reached the quarter final stages of the Champions League recently but playing away against Real Madrid is never a pleasant experience, except of course if you play for Barcelona.

With that said, Shakhtar Donetsk will try to make it difficult for Real Madrid because that is what they do. Their performances in the group stages of the Champions League have been sturdy and stable.

 

Prediction

Difficult to say (one can only take a guess) but with Ronaldo and Bale on the pitch, anything can happen tonight.

Lionel Messi scored two goals this season in European football (against Sevilla?) which tied him with Ronaldo for most goals scored in Champions League history at 80.

Bet on Ronaldo to beat that tonight.
Real Madrid 4-1 Shakhtar Donetsk. (Ronaldo and Ramos on the scoresheet)

Photo by Jan S0L0