Jonathan Wilson expects there to be goals as Borussia Dortmund head to Donetsk to take on a potentially rusty Shakhtar.
"The winter could be Shakhtar’s biggest problem. They haven’t played a home game since their 0-1 defeat to Juventus at the beginning of December."
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
Live on Sky Sports 4
Two teams humbled English sides in the Champions League group stages.
Two teams pressed and harried to win possession and, having won it, played thrilling attacking football, based on passing and ball retention without ever neglecting the need for verticality. Two teams embodied the Bielsista ideals of modern football: Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund, who meet on Wednesday evening in the Champions League (Shakhtar 2.6213/8 to win, Borussia 2.9215/8). The oddity is that the two managers who have come up with such similar conceptions of how football should be played are so different, in age, in background and in demeanour.
Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund's manager, is at 45 still young for a coach. He is one of the new breed, an analyst and stats man, somebody who had a less than stellar playing career, spending 12 years at Mainz before becoming their manager. Before taking a pay cut to become Dortmund manager in 2008, he was probably better known for his work as a television pundit than his work in football itself.
Mircea Lucescu is 67. The Romanian, whom convention dictates we must refer to as wily, was one of his nation's greatest ever forwards, and the youngest national captain at the 1970 World Cup. He has had an extraordinary career, surviving an earthquake in Bucharest and then negotiating the Ceausescu era before taking his expansive brand of football to Italy and Turkey. He has been at Shakhtar since 2004, a textbook example of what can be achieved by oligarchal owners if only they have patience.
Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, rattled through managers in his early years as owner, but he and Lucescu share a vision. Their financial plan is simple: pack the defence with local or eastern European talent and staff the forward line with young Brazilians who can then be sold at a profit. The latest to leave is Willian, who tormented Chelsea in the autumn, sold to Anzhi Makhachkala for €35m Euros.
He will be missed - but perhaps not as much as some have suggested.
Shakhtar's key creative force is Henrykh Mykhitaryan, an Armenian who is the one non-Brazilian among Shakhtar's attacking players. He scored 18 times in 17 games in the league before the winter break, but that statistic gives a slightly misleading impression of the sort of player he is; he is predominantly a creative player - just one who happens to be very good at taking chances.
Willian's position on the left could be taken by another young Brazilian, Taison, who was signed from Metalist Kharkiv over the winter break. At 25, he is older than most Brazilians Shakhtar bring in, but after scoring a brilliant volley against Rosenborg in the Europa League group stage he was reportedly a target for Chelsea.
Given his age, it seems likely he was signed mainly as a replacement for Willian and the fact he has spent two-and-a-half years in Ukraine should mean there is less of a bedding in phase. "The worst thing is the cold; it's very cold, it gets down to -20, -18 sometimes and we boys from Brazil, where it doesn't get so cold, really get to know what cold is," he said. "But I've adapted well, I'm calmer now, I'm more accustomed to everything. Now I have a new club, with new Brazilian team-mates who are helping me a lot."
The winter could be Shakhtar's biggest problem. They haven't played a home game since their 0-1 defeat to Juventus at the beginning of December. Their last friendly came in La Manga last week, a weakened side losing 1-0 to Odd Grenland. Borussia, meanwhile, have played four times since their winter break ended, rattling in 11 goals in the first three before a surprising 4-1 defeat at home to Hamburg (although the scoreline was far from representative of the game and they had a number of injury problems - Kevin Grosskreutz will miss out against Shakhtar with Ilkay Gundogan a major doubt).
Given both sides are committed to attack - Borussia scored 11 in six group games and Shakhtar 12 - goals seem likely - over 2.5 goals is 1.865/6 while over 3.5 is 3.1511/5 - although the danger is their pressing cancels out in midfield.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.865/6