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Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic (Match Preview)

Probabilities for the match are Celtic 43%, Shakhtar 30% and 27% for the draw.

Out of Shakhtar's most played 11 players last season only Stepanenko, Matviyenko and Trubin are still there with the other 8 players (who were all Brazilian) leaving. Some temporary and some permanent and due to the situation currently in Ukraine.

So with those players leaving they are a lot weaker than they were last season and last season they got no wins in the group stage and only two draws. One at home to Inter Milan and one at home to Sheriff from Moldova. They are currently 64th in the ELO ratings with Celtic 79th. Versus RB Leipzig on 6th September they lined up with the following;

  • In goals was 81 Anatolii Trubin who is only 21 years old and he has been in goals for Shakhtar for the last 3 seasons

  • Brazilian right back 23 Lucas Taylor is on loan from Greek club PAOK Thessaloniki

  • Centre back 5 Valeriy Bondar only played 7 matches last season but had 11 the season before.

  • Their other centre back 22 Mykola Matviyenko was their third most played player last season.

  • Left back 26 Yukhym Konoplia only played 8 games for them last season but had 22 the season before.

  • Defensive midfielder 6 Taras Stepanenko was their second most played player last season.

  • Ex-Celt 9 Maryan Shved signed from Belgian club KV Mechelen in the summer and he scored 8 goals for Mechelen in 62 games including while he was on loan from Celtic. He only did play 3 games for Celtic but did score 1 goal. He is left footed but plays wide right of the midfield. He had 0.18 xG per 90 in the Belgian league this season after 3 games (before signing for Shakhtar), 0.33 xG per 90 in the Belgian league play offs last season and 0.27 xG per 90 in the Belgian league last season. He scored two goals against RB Leipzig (in his first start for Shakhtar) and scored one goal in the league game after that.

  • 22 year old attacking midfielder 21 Artem Bondarenko only played 6 games for them last season but had 21 the season before.

  • 20 year old attacking midfielder 8 Georgiy Sudakov only played 10 games for them last season and 10 the season before. He had an assist against RB Leipzig.

  • 21 year old left winger 10 Mykhaylo Mudryk only played 11 games for them last season and played 13 the season before. He is quite pacey and tricky and he scored one and had one assist against RB Leipzig.

  • Centre forward 11 Oleksandr Zubkov was signed in the summer from Hungarian team Ferencvaros and he previously had a spell with Shakhtar from 2015 to 2018. He played against Celtic for Ferencvaros last season in their home game against Celtic in a wide right forward role (in a 4-2-3-1) and he had 3 shots and 2 key passes in that game. He was an unused sub in the game at Celtic Park.

Therefore they lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with;

  • 81 Trubin

  • 23 Taylor, 5 Bondar, 22 Matviyenko and 26 Konoplia

  • 6 Stepanenko

  • 9 Shved, 21 Bondarenko, 8 Sudakov and 10 Mudryk

  • 11 Zubkov

Their average positions map below.

Against RB Leipzig on 62 minutes Croatian attacking midfielder 17 Neven Djurasek (who they signed from Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb in the summer) came on for Bondarenko and 34 Ivan Petryak (who they signed from Hungarian club Fehervar in the summer) came on for Shved. Petryak is normally a left sided midfielder but he replaced Shved on the right in this game.

On 70 minutes Burkina Faso attacker 2 Lassina Traore (who only played 7 games last season after signing from Ajax) came on for Zubkov up front and then on 86 minutes experienced 31 year old central defender 4 Sergey Krivtsov (who has 30 caps for Ukraine but only played 7 times for Shakhtar last season) came on for defensive midfielder Stepanenko. Bondar then went into the defensive midfield role with Krivtsov slotting into Bondar's role in central defence.

Therefore they finished the game with the following team;

  • 81 Trubin

  • 23 Taylor, 4 Krivtsov, 22 Matviyenko and 26 Konoplia

  • 5 Bondar

  • 34 Petryak, 17 Djurasek, 8 Sudakov and 10 Mudryk

  • 2 Traore

They beat RB Leipzig 4-1 away from home with Shved scoring two, Mudryk one and substitute Traore one despite the team having only 32% possession and 0.95 xG. RB Leipzig had 1.41 xG. Shakhtar had Post Shot xG of 2.68.

47% of the match was played in Shakhtar defensive third while only 8% was played in RB Leipzig's defensive third. Shakhtar only had 30 final third passes. For comparison Celtic had 167 final third passes against Real Madrid.

Shakhtar had 39 clearances and scored 4 goals from only 3 shots inside the box. One of the goals (their first) was from a goalkeeping error outside the box that was even worse than Jon McLaughlin's.

Shakhtar were only successful on 12.9% of their pressures versus RB Leipzig and only 7% of those pressure came in their final third. For comparison 41% of Celtic's pressures came in their final third. So I wouldn't expect high pressing from Shakhtar.

Mudryk and Shved had the most pressures at 24 and 23 respectively although only 2 of those 47 coming in the final third and only 6 of them being successful. Compared to O'Riley's and Giakoumakis's combined 27 pressures in the final third.

Unused subs against RB Leipzig were;

  • Keepers 1 Oleksiy Shevchenko and 30 Andriy Pyatov,

  • Right back 15 Bogdan Mykhaylychenko (who is on loan from Anderlecht),

  • 19 year old defender 32 Eduard Kozik,

  • 21 year old attacking midfielders 16 Dmytro Kryskiv (who was on loan at Ukrainian club FC Metalist 1925 last season),

  • 19 year old 27 Oleg Ocheretko (who was on loan at Ukrainian club Mariupol last season),

  • 21 year old centre forward 14 Danylo Sikan (who was on loan to German club Hansa Rostock last season) and

  • winger 20 Dmytro Topalov (who was also on loan to Ukrainian club Mariupol last season).

In their league game on Saturday 10th September at home to Chornomorets Odessa they had 4 changes with 15 Mykhaylychenko coming in at right back and 4 Krivtsov coming in at centre back for Taylor and Bondar.

34 Petryak and 17 Djurasek coming in for Sudakov and Mudryk in midfield. I'm assuming Petryak played on the left midfield in this game in place of Mudryk with Shved staying on the right.

Therefore lining up with;

  • 81 Trubin

  • 15 Mykhaylychenko, 4 Krivtsov, 22 Matviyenko and 26 Konoplia

  • 6 Stepanenko

  • 9 Shved, 21 Bondarenko, 17 Djurasek and 34 Petryak

  • 11 Zubkov

Those dropping out were on the bench with the exception of Mudryk as he was suspended due to being sent off in the last league game.

At half time Traore came on for Petryak, then on 63 minutes Ocheretko came on for Zubkov, Sikan came on for Bondarenko and Sudakov came on for Djurasek. On 90 minutes right back Taylor came on for Shved.

19 Andriy Kulakov was an unused substitute who wasn't in the squad against RB Leipzig. He was on loan to Turkish club Tuzlaspor last season.

In this game they were getting beat 1-0 at half time but won the game with goals from Shved in 74 minutes and Ocheretko in 90+6.

Players who have been in the squads earlier in the season but not in the last two games are 19 year old goalkeeper 28 Marian Faryna, left back 99 Viktor Korniienko and central midfielder 7 Andriy Totovitskiy.

Shakhtar are top of the Ukrainian league table after 4 games (with 10 points) this season and last season they won the league by 2 points ahead of Dynamo Kyiv.

They have had a massive turnaround of players and have to rely on their youngsters who either didn't get game time last season or who were out on loan. The youngsters may be hungry but it must be doubtful that they can be as good as they were in previous seasons.

It will not be an easy game for Celtic and it can always be risky at this level but I'm confident that Celtic can make a big claim for second place in the group by winning this game with the neutral venue (in Warsaw, Poland) also taking away home advantage for Shakhtar.

Celtic have been good in defence this season but this is still a step up so I expect them to concede one goal but I also expect them to win by more than one goal so my prediction is a 3-1 win for Celtic at 16/1.

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