With a 100% win rate in this competition so far, the Blaugrana would be travelling to Germany with the expectation of nothing else than a fourth consecutive victory. However, perennial Champions League side Shakhtar Donetsk would be no pushovers in their makeshift home, the Volksparkstadion, where they will hope they can cause a major upset and put the reverse 2-1 defeat behind them.
SKH: Riznyk; Gocholeishvili, Bondar, Rakitakiy, Matviyenko; Stepanenko; Zubkov, Kryskiv, Sudakov, Newerton; Sikan
BAR: Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Araujo, Christensen, Alonso; Gundogan, Romeu, Gavi; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Torres
From the off, Barcelona held possession nicely, as many would have expected. Within the first quarter of an hour though, the best chance fell to Mykola Matviyenko who latched onto Yaroslav Rakitskiy’s long ball – but he could only smash his effort straight at the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
For all the smart interplay, Barcelona could not create any clear cut opportunities early on, instead relying on long range efforts from the returning Raphinha and Ilkay Gundogan.
The breakthrough for Donetsk came on the 40 minute mark, as Sikan nodded home a wonderful right wing cross from Giorgi Gocholeishvili. The ball looped into the net, seemingly taking an age to find the top right corner, but they were deservedly ahead nonetheless.Embed from Getty Images
Many fans would have thought the Ukrainian side would be happy to soak up pressure in the second period. However, they came flying out of the blocks with Gocholeishvili striking the ball straight at Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, before Sikan nearly got a double – this time, his cross/shot was well saved by the feet of the German keeper after a smart through ball by Oleksandr Zubkov.
As the full whistle blew the players, staff and coaches of Donetsk huddled with one another. Clearly this was a hugely important win for not only the club, but for Ukraine as well. Barcelona were nowhere near at their best on this occasion having registered only one shot on target, and Xavi has work to do if they are to win any silverware this season.
Barcelona still remain top of the group and look poised to qualify for the knockout stages next time they head out in this competition against Porto. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side sit level with the Portuguese club on six points in what looks to to be a feisty fight for second place in the group. Donetsk face Royal Antwerp in the next gameweek, and they must keep the momentum going if they are to qualify for the knockout phase.