Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu has challenged his players to improve their performance when Valencia visit Ukraine for a potentially decisive Group D encounter.
The Ukrainian champions are bottom of the section with just one point from their first three games. Those results make victory vital for Shakhtar tonight, and their coach is confident it can be achieved.
“I hope we will be much more focused than we were in our three previous matches,” said Lucescu.
“I hope we will not offer any presents as we have been doing – it was our mistakes that led to the 2-0 defeat at Valencia. I want to see the team that beat Celtic and Barça.”
Shakhtar will be without Viacheslav Sviderskiy and Anatoliy Tymoschuk through suspension, yet Lucescu is convinced his side have what it takes to spring a surprise.
“We will not settle for a draw,” he added. “Valencia aren’t much stronger than us – we have everything needed to match them and to beat them.”
Valencia coach Quique Sánchez Flores lost Jaime Gavilán to a knee ligament injury in Saturday’s encounter with Racing Santander. The injury could keep the 21-year-old out of action for up to six months.
Gavilán joins fellow midfielders David Albelda (knee), Rubén Baraja (calf) and Vicente Rodríguez (ankle) on the sidelines, and in their absence 20-year-old Miguel Pallardó stepped up from the.
“We have been unlucky and we now have to fight the same battles with fewer soldiers,” said Sánchez Flores, who is also without Asier del Horno (achilles) and Carlos Marchena (cruciate).
“But injuries are part of the game and we’re close to the top of the group, and close to the next stage. We’ve learned our lessons from the match in Santander and know we need to play to our maximum in every game. I think on their own pitch Shakhtar will be much more dangerous and aggressive than they were at the Mestalla.”
A win will guarantee Valencia’s place in the knockout stages, although a draw would be enough if Roma avoid defeat against Olympiakos.
Stipe Pletikosa; Dario Srna, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, Olexander Kucher, Razvan Rat; Fernandinho, Tomáš Hübschman, Igor Duljaj, Matuzalem; Brandão, Julius Aghahowa.
Santiago Cañizares; Luis Miguel, Raúl Albiol, Roberto Ayala, Emiliano Moretti; Miguel Pallardó, Edu, Miguel Ángel Angulo, David Silva; Fernando Morientes, David Villa.