Champions League, Shakhtar Donetsk vs Bayern Munich: Preview
Arjen Robben admits Bayern Munich have a few nerves as they head to the war-torn Ukraine for Tuesday`s Champions League last 16, first-leg, clash away to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Lviv: Arjen Robben admits Bayern Munich have a few nerves as they head to the war-torn Ukraine for Tuesday`s Champions League last 16, first-leg, clash away to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Due to fighting in east Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian rebels, Shakhtar host their home league games in Kiev, but have opted to play their Champions League matches in Lviv, near the Poland border.
They will host Bayern at Arena Lviv, some 1000 kilometres from their own Donbass Stadium in Donetsk, which is being used to distribute humanitarian aid and whose facade has been damaged by shelling.
Pep Guardiola`s star-studded Bayern squad head east fully aware it`s far from a typical away match, just days after romping to a record 8-0 rout of Hamburg on Saturday.
"Of course you are aware of the situation, it affects us all," said Robben, who scored twice against Hamburg.
"You can`t just go there and ignore what is going on."
Bayern fly to Lviv from Munich at 1445 local time on Monday and are scheduled to head back at 0030 on Wednesday morning.
Less than 36 hours on Ukraine soil means the German champions want to spend as little time there as possible and they have cancelled their usual post-match banquet.
Guardiola has admitted he is "concerned about the situation in Ukraine", while chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the ceasefire over the weekend "has made the whole thing a bit more relaxed for us".European football`s governing body UEFA insist there is nothing to worry about.
"The safety of all participants is guaranteed," a UEFA spokeswoman told SID, an AFP subsidiary.
Bayern warmed-up by hammering Hamburg in Munich as Robben, Thomas Mueller and Mario Geotze each scored a brace.
It was the visitors` heaviest league defeat and the league`s biggest victory for 30 years.
Bayern rested Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso, who had a leg injury, and were also without suspended Germany defender Jerome Boateng against Hamburg, but both are expected to face Donetsk.
With the Ukraine Premier League still in a winter break, Shakhtar will come into the game short of competitive match practice and having only played friendlies in Brazil and Spain during recent training camps.
Their last competitive game was a 1-1 draw at Porto on December 10 in their final Champions League group game.
They are second in the Ukraine Premier League table, five points behind leaders Dynamo Kiev, and in danger of missing out on a sixth straight league title.
While Bayern won their group with two matches to spare, Donetsk finished second behind Porto in their pool, but still managed to make Champions League history.
They posted a 7-0 away win at BATE Borisov when Brazil striker Luiz Adriano, their top scorer for the last five seasons, finished with five goals.
He has scored nine goals from just 11 attempts in the group stages.
The result made Champions League history as Shakhtar became the first team to romp to a 6-0 half-time lead.
"Bayern are still in a different rhythm of the game. They play matches every three to four days, whereas we played several friendly matches during a month-and-half," Adriano told Shakhtar`s official website.
Donetsk will be without midfielder Taras Stepanenko, who is serving a one-match suspension having been booked three times in the group stage.