Shakhtar Donetsk coach, Mircea Lucescu says a round-of-16 victory over German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will be “heroic.”
The Pitmen will play their first competitive game of 2015- over two months after their last; a draw with FC Porto on Match Day 6- when Bayern visit their adopted Lviv Arena home on Tuesday night in a Uefa Champions League first leg round of 16 tie.
Lucescu said: “We will be heroes if we beat Bayern and qualify for the next stage. Our last competitive game was ten weeks ago, and you all know about the conditions we have been working under this season.”
The Bavarians’ were ushered into 2015 with an excruciating defeat by Wolfsburg but Coach Pep Guardiola’s side have responded well since then, and come into Tuesday night’s encounter brimming with confidence after their 8-0 demolition of Hamburger SV at the weekend- their biggest Bundesliga win since 1984.
“Bayern are clear favourites,” says Lucescu, whose side have only managed friendly matches so far this year as their Ukrainian Premier League winter break is set to end at the end of the month. Shakhtar have just freshness as about their potent weapon against the 2013 champions and yet Lucescu is not throwing in the towel.
“Almost everyone will tell you that Bayern are going through, especially after their 8-0 win in the last league match,” the 69-year-old affirmed during his pre-match media conference on Monday.
“Bayern have played four competitive games this year, so their coach knows very well the potential of his players, while we have had friendlies and we will only see the players’ condition tomorrow.
“They are one of the best teams in the world with a great coach who loves his work very much. In the last two seasons he has changed Bayern and made them play like a Latin side. He is creating a unique team, but there are always chances in a two-legged tie. Sometimes logic doesn’t apply in football.”
The Romanian coach however hopes “the 13 Brazilians” in his squad could exact a revenge of their country’s ouster at the hands of “Bayern’s 6 world champions” in the semi-finals of last year’s world football showpiece
Moreover, Bernard is out of such “dream” due to an ankle injury but Lucescu is counting on his countrymen Taison and Marlos as replacements for the forward. Philip Lahm, who led Germany’s charges to a 4th World Cup triumph at the Maracana may only feature in the second leg having just returned to training on Monday, after a right ankle injury. Jarvi Martinez (knee), Thiago Alvantara (knee) are other Bayern absentees but Xabi Alonso faces late fitness test after training on Monday.
Shakhtar one of the best in Europe
Bayern coach Guardiola does not share of his counterpart’s fears ahead of their Champions League first leg second round game.
Instead, the Spaniard has special memories of difficult battles with the Ukrainian champions during his time as Barcelona manager and says his team should be “proud” of a win.
“I played against Shakhtar five times with Barcelona and although we had a really amazing squad it was always difficult,” said Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice with Barcelona.
“You may remember the UEFA Super Cup when we scored only in extra time. Once we were defeated at home by Shakhtar.
“If we play below our level we can be knocked out by Shakhtar. We are in good form and a good mood. Hopes for the final? We have a long way to go yet. Tomorrow’s game is the first step.”