Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Juventus Preview

The final day of the group stage features a Group E matchup between Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk and Italian champions Juventus. Both teams control their own destiny in advancing to the knockout stage, thus eliminating current European title holders Chelsea.

Shakhtar sits top of the table in Group E, with 10 points, one better than Juventus and three better than Chelsea. The Hirnyky have been a pleasant surprise in the competition, winning supporters while playing some very attractive football.

Willian is a splendid winger with pace.

Willian is a splendid winger with pace.

Brazilian winger Willian Borges da Silva leads the club with 4 goals in the Champions League, using his pace and artistry along the flank, to confound defenders. He has been mentioned to be on the Brazil team in the 2014 World Cup and this competition will go a long way in determining his future on the international stage.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the leader of the Shakhtar midfield.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the leader of the Shakhtar midfield.

Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the talismanic figure for Shakhtar. Mkhitaryan leads the club with 19 goals in all competitions, to go with providing quality service, to his strikers. Mkhitaryan is one of the most underrated players in the world, but if Shakhtar goes on a long European run, he will receive more attention.

Darijo Srna hopes to celebrate a first place finish in Group E.

Darijo Srna hopes to celebrate a first place finish in Group E.

Captain Darijo Srna patrols the back four. The Croatian International, is a sturdy presence, who is adept at set pieces and crosses. It isn’t unusual to see Srna surge up the right flank, but since goals aren’t necessary for Shakhtar, expect Srna to sit back and defend.

Expect Andriy Pyatov to start between the sticks for Shakhtar. The Ukraine International has had troublesome moments, particularly in a fixture against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, where he conceded two howlers in Shakhtar’s only loss in the competition. Pyatov would love to get a clean sheet in this match, to restore his confidence.

For Juventus, a draw would most likely send them to the knockout stage, but a victory would give them the group and a better draw in the knockout stage. How they will approach this game remains a question mark.

Fabio Quagliarella should be on the team sheet for this fixture.

Fabio Quagliarella should be on the team sheet for this fixture.

Manger Angelo Alessio is coy about his team sheet but he does have options up front. Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco or Mirko Vucninc could start for The Old Lady. All three have been productive for Juventus and all deserve a spot on the roster. It is most probable that Quagliarella will get the start, as he did not see the pitch in the club’s 3-0 victory over Torino over the weekend.

Arturo Vidal is rested and ready to go.

Arturo Vidal is rested and ready to go.

Arturo Vidal should start as an attacking midfielder for Juventus. The Chilean International, was rested over the weekend, so he could be fully fit for this fixture. Vidal is a versatile performer, who Shakhtar need to keep in check.

The maestro of the midfield. Andrea Pirlo

The maestro of the midfield. Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo is an ageless wonder for Juventus. At age 33, Pirlo continues to dazzle and dominate in the midfield. He is the best player in Italian football right now, and shows no signs of slowing down.

The steadfast Giorgio Chiellini.

The steadfast Giorgio Chiellini.

With Juventus needing to keep a clean sheet, the back four of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Paolo de Ceglie will need to be stern and steady. They were brilliant in the club’s 3-0 thrashing over Chelsea, not giving the Blues attackers any space or time. A similar performance will see Juventus through to the knockout stage.

Their is great comfort for Juventus when Gianluigi Buffon is between the sticks.

Their is great comfort for Juventus when Gianluigi Buffon is between the sticks.

The last line of defence is keeper Gianluigi Buffon. One of the best in the word, Buffon has recorded clean sheets in the last two European fixtures for Juventus. A calm presence, Buffon will be ready for this one.

Prediction:

Not expecting much here. A draw will do for both sides. Juventus have a healthy advantage over Chelsea in goal difference and a draw will do them nicely. Shakhtar will also play for a draw since that is all they need to clinch the group. Expect pragmatic, stoic football that won’t be very entertaining, but it will be necessary for both sided. A goalless draw is the pick, with both sides advancing to the knockout stage.

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973

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About Jsportsfan

Covers the Winnipeg Jets for jetsnation.ca. Likes many but not all sports. I'm loveably annoying. You can also follow me on Twitter @jstar1973
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One Response to Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Juventus Preview

  1. J-Dub says:

    The real question is: What happened to FC Nordsjelland? I had them all the way.

    Or maybe not.

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