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Yaroslav Rakitskiy hopes FC Shakhtar Donetsk will avoid a repeat of the mistakes that contributed to their 5-1 defeat by FC Barcelona when the teams reconvene for the conclusion of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
The defender's goal at the Camp Nou last week was scant consolation for the Pitmen, who had succumbed by the same scoreline at Arsenal FC on Matchday 3. Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu highlighted his side's lack of knockout round experience in Europe's premier competition as a crucial factor in their chastening loss. Five days on, Rakitskiy trusts the lessons learned will stand his team in good stead as they plot an improbable comeback against the 2009 tournament winners.
"[Andrés] Iniesta's early goal didn't kill our plans," said the 21-year-old centre-half. "We started well enough but we failed to make good use of our opportunities. We learned that the most important thing is to take your chances against such strong opposition. Not conceding goals is also crucial. Last week we helped Barcelona score. Now we should do our best to avoid the mistakes made at the Camp Nou."
Shakhtar's former Barcelona centre-back Dmytro Chygrynskiy will once again be unavailable to help Rakitskiy and company contain the Azulgrana, having failed to overcome an ankle problem. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian international thinks Shakhtar should still be able to cope in the big defender's absence.
"It's not important who plays alongside me tomorrow because only top-class players get to wear the Shakhtar shirt," he explained. "
At 5-1 our chances of qualifying are quite small, but our goal is to win at home as always."
Olexiy Gai, meanwhile, is confident Saturday's 1-0 Premier-Liha loss to FC Obolon Kyiv – Shakhtar's first top-flight home reverse since October 2008 – will not affect morale among the domestic league leaders. "This is football," said the midfielder.
"Defeats are part of the game and we have no time to think about this on the eve of the return leg against Barça. Everyone should take responsibility for the result and move on. Tiredness cannot be used as an excuse because a tight schedule is normal for a club competing in Europe."
However minimal Shakhtar's prospects of progressing, captain Darijo Srna is demanding a show of character on Tuesday. "We play for the honour of our club, the city and the fans," said full-back Srna, who is a major doubt after injuring a thigh at the weekend. "I'm sure the players will give their all in order to beat Barça."
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