Shakhtar Donetsk- Fenerbahce
These two "big" clubs were very disappointed to be paired together at this stage of the competition and the qualifying stages will be weaker for losing one of these before the playoff round, the first leg ended 0-0 ,so usually advantage Shakhtar, but tonight's match will be played in Lviv which is over 1,200 km from Donetsk and that certainly lessens their "home field" edge today, as does the lack of that all important away goal. They have been playing here for some time and will continue to do so for at least the rest of 2015 due to the conflict in the Ukraine, but their two home games this season have only been attended by a little over 2,000 supporters and whilst there will be many more this evening, it is likely that many thousands will be Fenerbahce supporters, with Istanbul being a similar distance from Lviv as Donetsk ! If this is to be an intimidating atmoshere, it is likely to be one caused by the visiting fans and the Turkish club have been repeating pleas to their supporters to "behave" all week.
Obviously, Donetsk have been operating under incredibly difficult circumstances and it was no surprise that Douglas Costa , Luiz Adriano and Fernando moved on and replacements have been very low key, with largely, only the "needy and the greedy" prepared to make the move at present. Fenerbahce brought in a host of players to strengthen their defence, including Souza and Simon Kjaer and greatly increased offensive options with the additions of Fernandao, Nani and amid much hoopla, Robin Van Persie. They have all travelled tonight, RVP made his debut from off the bench with 20 minutes to go in the first leg and had a chance to win it late, but fluffed his lines, he was said to be well short of fitness ahead of that match, but with another week under his belt he should be further along and he has it seems, asked the coach to name him in the starting eleven.The visitors can add new right back Şener Özbayraklıto the squad for the first time following his suspension.
This is a massive game for Fenerbahce, as it is for all clubs involved, but the Turkish giants have missed out on Champions League football for two years and the group stage for seven, they have invested heavily this season to correct that (goodness knows what their wage bill must be !) and have assembled the strongest squad in their history and for now, it all comes down to this. The players are on a reported bonus of 7.5m € to progress this evening and I guess that will not do any harm either.
They will be looking for that away goal that might well be enough to secure progression and have the firepower to get it and look solid enough at the back to stop the "home" side from scoring twice.
Fenerbahce +0.5 ball 2.12 asian line/Sportmarket.