Chelsea face a very tricky Champions League tie when they travel to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night (7.45pm BST).
Chelsea were absolutely outstanding on attack in their weekend win against Tottenham. The combined forces of Juan Mata, who scored twice and assisted in another, Oscar and Eden Hazard were a joy to watch.
Every time the Chelsea attack streamed forward they looked like scoring. Were it not for a Fernando Torres, who is still not looking at his very best, the score line could have been greater in Chelsea’s favour. It was also interesting to note how effective they were without the old guard duo of the suspended John Terry and the benched Frank Lampard, who only made a substitute appearance in the dying minutes of the game.
In contrast to the Chelsea of old, the younger, newer faces are really starting to take a hold of this team and make it their own.
Hazard is still carrying on in the excellent form that brought him to the fore so early in his Premier League career, while you’d hardly think Oscar was a 21-year-old with around two-months of European football under his belt.
But Chelsea will have to be at their very best to get something in Donetsk at the Donbass Arena. Any trip to Eastern Europe is a difficult one, no matter the opponent. But Shakhtar are a powerhouse in their back yard and should be treated as such. They’re more often than not imperious at home and do play some equally wonderful attacking football.
The Shakhtar teams of recent years have been known to be rich in Brazilian flair, and this team is still spearheaded, figuratively, by attacking midfielder Willian. He has long been on the radar of teams in England and has always been one of the standout performers for the home side when playing at their own ground in European competition.
However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is likely to play behind the lone striker, is in scintillating scoring form this season. The midfielder has 13 goals in the league this season and has already impressed in this Champions League campaign. He’s certainly one to watch.
Luiz Adriano is likely to start for the home side as the lone striker, while captain Darijo Srna will take up his position in the right full-back position with Razvan Rat on the opposite flank.
Two very experienced international full-backs, but they shouldn’t deflect attention away from the extremely talented young centre-back Yaroslav Rakitskiy. The 23-year-old defender has take plenty of praise following a game against Barcelona two seasons ago, and is now a regular in the Shakhtar defence.
Former Arsenal striker Eduardo is also in the Shakhtar ranks, but has seen most of his action off the bench this season.
There are no real injury worries for Roberto Di Matteo ahead of this game, and he’s likely to stick with largely the same team that won at White Hart Lane on the weekend.
Ramires could be used from a more advanced role on one of the flanks for greater defensive cover and John Terry will also be available as his ban is limited to domestic games only.
This should be a very open game with both sides attacking: I’m confident this will be one of the matches of this Champions League week.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Chelsea Betting Tips Advice
This game is also likely to prove to be one of Chelsea’s biggest tests so far this season. They failed to hold a 2-0 lead at home to Juventus, and the away trip to FC Nordsjaelland was not the most convincing.
- Chelsea would do extremely well to come away from the Donbass Arena with all three points, but I’m backing the draw @ 5/2 with Skybet & BetVictor.
- As mentioned, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is in excellent scoring form and should be backed to score at any time @ 9/4 with Ladbrokes.