Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu is hoping past success against Barcelona in the Champions League can inspire them to improve their displays on the domestic front.
Shakhtar have won just one Ukrainian Premier League game in nine – but Lucescu believes they have the potential to repeat the feat of three years ago when they defeated Barca 2-0 in the group stages.
“We watched the match again, just to see that these teams can be beaten,” said Lucescu, whose side are attempting to reach the first knockout round for the first time. “We played very good football then, and now we have to reproduce it.
“There is a big difference between league games and Champions League matches. The game against Barcelona is like a festival. It’s always a joy when top clubs visit Donetsk.”
“Criticism is what we get but we need support, especially on the eve of our first Champions League home game,” Lucescu added. “We have won all three matches in European competition [including third qualifying round victories against NK Dinamo Zagreb], and I don’t think we deserve that much criticism. Today we badly need support and love from our fans.”
The coach can welcome back left-back Razvan Rat but is without another full-back, Olexandr Kucher, with either Mykola Ischenko or Volodymyr Yezerskiy ready to step in.
The mood in the Barcelona camp is high following three consecutive Spanish Liga victories. However, the 37-year-old coach, Pep Guardiola, is only looking ahead.
“We have to forget the past,” he said. “What really matters is the next match. Four wins in a row is great but we shouldn’t relax. We respect Shakhtar as we know it is very difficult to beat them at their place.
“We will play our best lineup,” Guardiola went on. “Shakhtar are not a team who will roll over for you.”