Dmytro Chygrynskiy will be eager to show FC Barcelona what they missed when his FC Shakhtar Donetsk side head to the Camp Nou for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
The 24-year-old defender became the first Ukrainian to represent Barcelona when he joined from Shakhtar in August 2009, but while his new club went on to win the Liga title, Chygrynskiy's time in Spain proved less than satisfactory on a personal level. Indeed, his failure to secure a regular first-team place prompted a return to the Pitmen last summer.
I admit I was disappointed; this is Barcelona we're talking about – the best club in the world," the centre-back told UEFA.com. "I was sure I was capable of playing in the first team, but a year went by. I had talks with the coach. He said he hoped the coming season would be much more successful for me, but things turned out differently and I came back here."
Despite the experience gained from more than 20 international appearances, that quick return could have been a devastating blow. Instead, Chygrynskiy is keen to accentuate the positives from his time at the Camp Nou. "There were a lot of moments when I learned things plus a lot of useful experiences," said Chygrynskiy. "That will help me in the future. The only down side was that I didn't play that much."
He is now preparing to make the trip back to Barcelona for Wednesday's quarter-final opener and is hoping Shakhtar's performance against AS Roma in the round of 16 augurs well. Mircea Lucescu's team won 6-2 over two legs – the biggest margin of victory in the round – and the defender is sure the watching world took note.
"The organisation of our play was definitely very good – everyone noticed that," commented Chygrynskiy, who has a master's degree in Liberal Arts. "Italian teams are very well organised, but we were just as good. We have a lot of things that Roma don't have, like pace up front. We used fast counterattacks and our players showed how quick they are."
Speed alone will not spare them at the Camp Nou, but if they can contain Barcelona in Spain, Shakhtar will surely have a chance over two legs due to their formidable form in Donetsk. The Pitmen have not lost in their last 15 European home games, including six wins and two draws in their eight fixtures at their new stadium, the Donbass Arena.
"The support we get is much more vocal than at the old [RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium]," said Chygrynskiy, whose side have won all four UEFA Champions League home games this season, scoring eight goals and conceding only one. "I can't say it's a ‘hand of God' for us, but the crowd there definitely gives us wings. The team is also getting stronger.
Shakhtar don't just perform at home, but the winning streak is a fact and I hope it will last for a long time."
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