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Champions League profiles 2015/16: Shakhtar Donetsk

| 12.09.2015

Ukrainian heavyweights Shakhtar Donetsk join domestic rivals Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League group stage and are 4/1 with Coral to qualify for the last 16 of the competition after a positive start to their season, which sees them top of their league after just five games.

Domestic league: Ukrainian Premier League

How they qualified: Finishing second in the UPL last season saw them entered into the third qualifying round, where they beat Fenerbahce, before seeing off Rapid Vienna in the Champions League play-offs.

Best Champions League era performance: The 2010/11 campaign marked arguably, one of their best ever performances over two legs as they reached the quarter final stage with a shock, 6-2 aggregate victory over Italian giants Roma.

The first leg in Italy finished 3-2 with the match more or less wrapped up at half time, before returning to the Ukraine, where they stormed to a 3-0 victory, courtesy of a brace from Willian (now at Chelsea) to help them on their way.

Their luck would end there though, as they were then crushed 6-1 on aggregate by a brilliant Barcelona side who went on to win the competition.

Coach: Managed by Romanian Mircea Lucescu, the club have a coach with a good pedigree, who has won the Romanian Coach of the Year award on four occasions.

Ins and outs: Notable departures saw winger Douglas Costa join Bayern Munich, striker Luiz Adriano move to AC Milan, and anchorman Fernando Lucas Martins link up with Sampdoria, while the only signing of recognition was former Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva who re-joined from Brazilian club Flamengo.

Familiar faces: Probably the only player, Premier League fans may recognise is, as touched upon, ex-Gunners striker Eduardo who suffered a serious leg break during his time in England. Veteran Croatia right back Darijo Srna is another player eagle-eyed fans may remember from international tournaments.

Key players: While Eduardo can score goals, it is Brazilian duo Bernard and Taison who really make Shakhtar tick and once they get on the ball, anything can happen.

Ukraine Soccer Champions League

Ones to watch: The aforementioned Bernard and Taison are certainly exciting prospects and worth keeping an eye on, while attacker and compatriot, Alex Teixeira is a formidable prospect.

Emerging talent: In central midfield, 22-year-old Brazilian, Fred shows plenty of promise and could blossom into a top class player.

CL group and fixtures:

Group A

V Real Madrid (Away), September 15th
V PSG (Home), September 30th
V Malmo (Away), October 21st
V Malmo (Home), November 3rd
V Real Madrid (Home), November 25th
V PSG (Away), December 8th



Matt Haynes

A long-suffering Leeds fan, Matt studied Sports Journalism at university, and has a plethora of multi-industry experience. Having worked on behalf of multiple hedge funds and top-tier investment banks in executive search, he has also had a stint with the BBC and the Press Association. Outside of work, he pursues entrepreneurial activities and likes to keep fit.
Although he has interviewed current England manager Roy Hodgson as well as Rafa Benitez and a number of other names, he is honoured to have spent time in the company of Gordon Banks. Matt enjoys cultivating long-lasting professional and personal relationships, is solution orientated, and supports Coral’s sports content provision.