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Roma return to the UEFA Champions League after a season's absence aiming to leave a better impression than on their last appearance in 2004/05. Then - as now - they started off against Ukrainian opposition at the Stadio Olimpico but that first fixture against FC Dynamo Kyiv was abandoned at half-time with Roma trailing 1-0 after a missile thrown from the crowd struck referee Anders Frisk.
• UEFA subsequently awarded Dynamo a 3-0 win and Roma also lost the reverse fixture - their second ever against Ukrainian opposition - and ended a miserable campaign with just one point. Two years on and FC Shakhtar Donetsk are their opening opponents but the hosts' hopes of starting on a better footing this time are not helped by the late start to the Italian season.
• With Roma kicking off their Serie A campaign on 9 September, just three days prior to their Group D opener, the fear in the Giallorossi camp is this will leave them at a disadvantage against a Shakhtar side whose own domestic season began in late July.
• Ukrainian champions twice running, Shakhtar are in the group stage for the third time after defeating Legia Warszawa in the third qualifying round. They won the first leg in Donetsk 1-0 through Elano Blumer's penalty and completed the job with a 3-2 away success secured through strikes from Ciprian Marica (2) and Fernandinho.
• Roma qualified automatically having been confirmed as second-placed finishers in Serie A last season after the punishments handed to Juventus, AC Milan and ACF Fiorentina.
• Coach Luciano Spalletti's attempts to strengthen his squad for Europe's élite competition included signing FC Internazionale Milano's playmaker David Pizarro – a player he knows only too well from their days together at Udinese Calcio.
• Roma's first outing of the season ended unhappily as they surrendered a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 to Inter in the Italian Super Cup. Shakhtar suffered the same fate as they went down 2-0 against Dynamo in the Ukrainian Super Cup. However, they have started the Ukrainian league season strongly after a summer where coach Mircea Lucescu penned a new two-year deal and Nigerian striker Emmanuel Okoduwa arrived from FC Arsenal Kyiv.
Shakhtar's poor record
• Shakhtar have never before played Roma but their ten past meetings against Italian opponents have brought just one win and eight losses. Their most recent encounter was against Inter in last season's third qualifying round and ended in a 3-1 aggregate defeat after a 2-0 home reverse and 1-1 draw in Milan.
• Six players from the two squads were on the field during the Italy-Ukraine FIFA World Cup quarter-final in June - Roma's Simone Perrotta and Francesco Totti, and Shakhtar's Olexiy Bielik, Viacheslav Sviderskiy, Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Andriy Vorobey.
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