Ukraine's winter break just ended, putting Shakhtar in a tough spot entering a Champions League clash vs. Roma.

By 90Min
February 20, 2018

AS Roma will be traveling to Kharkiv, Ukraine, for the first leg of their Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday as the Giallorossi look to transfer their domestic form over to Europe.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side have secured three wins on the bounce in the Serie A since their shock 1-0 defeat to Sampdoria back in January, with the recent form of Cengiz Ünder a massive boost ahead of the Champions League knockout stages.

Shakhtar Donetsk will be playing just their second competitive fixture following a two-month winter break after the Miners secured a 5-0 victory over Chornomorets Odesa in the Ukranian Premier League on Friday.

Here's everything you need to know about the game in Kharkiv:


Classic Encounter

Shakhtar Donetsk have won their last three games against AS Roma, two of which have come on home soil. Their most recent victory in Rome saw the likes of Douglas Costa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Willian star for the Ukranian giants in a five-goal thriller at the Stadio Olimpico.

Veteran midfielder Simone Perrotta was able to put Roma into a first-half lead with a deflected header at the back post.

However, the Giallorossi saw their lead extinguished immediately when Jádson saw a speculative effort deflect past Roma's stranded goalkeeper, Doni.

Douglas Costa then scored an Arjen Robben style long-shot with his dangerous left foot before Luiz Adriano made it 3-1 before the half-time whistle.

Roma looked as though they could spark a comeback when midway through the second half Jérémy Ménez popped up with a fantastic goal from distance. However, Claudio Ranieri's side were unable to find a third goal and would eventually be knocked out of the competition by a 6-2 aggregate scoreline.


Key Battle
 
Cengiz Ünder vs Ismaily

Eusebio Di Francesco will be hoping that the form of his Turkish superstar Cengiz Ünder will carry over to the Champions League this week after the 20-year-old scored four goals in his last three matches.

The former Medipol Basaksehir star has had a largely frustrating time in Italy after moving to Rome in a €13m deal last summer.

However, his match-winning performances against Hellas Verona, Benevento and Udinese in recent weeks have seen the youngster find his best form in a Giallorossi shirt.

The man that will be tasked with keeping Ünder quiet, and off his deadly left foot, on Wednesday is Brazilian fullback Ismaily. The 28-year-old is still an unknown quantity for most football fans, but his stunning performance against Manchester City in the group stages should give Roma cause for concern.


Team News
FRANCISCO LEONG/GettyImages

Shakhtar's star center back Yaroslav Rakitsky will return to the first team on Wednesday despite missing their recent league win through a domestic suspension. However, 25-year-old midfielder Maksym Malyshev will be out of contention after undergoing an operation on his knee.

For Roma, injuries at fullback should see Rick Karsdorp and Jonathan Silva sidelined for another week. Maxime Gonalons is also expected to continue his long-term absence after suffering a calf injury at the start of the year.


Potential Shakhtar Donetsk Starting Lineup: Pyatov, Dodô, Kryvtsov, Rakitsky, Ismaily, Stepanenko, Fred, Marlos, Taison, Bernard, Ferreyra.
 
Potential AS Roma Starting Lineup: Alisson, Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov, De Rossi, Strootman, Ünder, Nainggolan, El Shaarawy, Dzeko.

Prediction

Although Shakhtar Donetsk have shown their quality in the Champions League this season, the Miners' impressive record against Roma in recent years should come to an end on Wednesday.
 
The Ukrainian side haven't had regular competitive action for almost two months while the Giallorossi - who sit third in the Serie A table - have played 13 league and Coppa Italia games during that time.
 
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 AS Roma

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