The presence of the president of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev, has further upped the ante for Wednesday's contest between FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Zenit St Petersburg, but the Pitmen's defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy is not being taken in by the hype.
A meeting of the champions of Ukraine and Russia is a massive story in both nations. For the 24-year-old Chygrynskiy, though, all talk of rivalries from the days of the former Soviet Union is a sideshow in Group G, where Shakhtar are at the foot of the table with one point after two games.
"We need to win," was his matter-of-fact assessment. "You can see how important the Zenit game is. You only need to look at the table. We are in a difficult situation after two matchdays. Shakhtar need to get back on top. There is no other option for us."
Somewhat reluctantly, Chygrynskiy accepted that it was an exciting occasion for supporters. "Of course, the fans have something to talk about," he said. "These former Soviet sides are now the strongest in their respective countries;
Shakhtar won the UEFA Cup the year after Zenit did, but you cannot think of these things on the pitch. Every Champions League game is special. This one is no bigger than any other. The table is the only thing that really matters."
Under Luciano Spalletti, Zenit have gained a reputation for their quick movement through midfield while Shakhtar prefer to dominate possession. Mircea Lucescu has talked his side through what they can expect from Zenit, but Chygrynskiy knows that games are rarely won on the chalkboard. "Playing against them is completely different to watching them on a screen," the former FC Barcelona man noted.
Two goals in second-half added time helped Shakhtar earn a 3-1 win at SC Tavriya Simferopol on Saturday, an achievement Chygrynskiy felt was worth celebrating. "You could see the state of the team," he said, with his side once more top of the rankings, level on points with FC Dynamo Kyiv.
"We showed character and got the decisive goals in the end. The situation in Ukraine is now quite comfortable for us so we can allow ourselves to focus completely on the Champions League. We have been preparing very calmly for this crucial game against Zenit."
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.