Bayer 04 Leverkusen are eager to keep tabs on a freewheeling FC Shakhtar Donetsk side when the Ukrainian champions come calling in UEFA Champions League Group A. Coaches Sami Hyypiä and Mircea Lucescu agree the teams have contrasting styles, but both have identified potential weaknesses to exploit – Shakhtar's defensive frailty and Leverkusen's tendency to attack in numbers.
Sami Hyypiä, coach
Donetsk have a very good team. You cannot focus on one or two players just because they have a lot of individual quality up front. Their players are always in motion, which is why this was quite a difficult match to prepare for. We have to communicate well and defend better than we have in our most recent games. We cannot always count on [goalkeeper Bernd] Leno.
[Shakhtar] are better going forward and have problems when they have to defend. Their style is always the same – home or away. We have to be well prepared and will try to benefit from their offensive play so that we have more attacking players than they have defenders.
We have been nervous on the ball at times, especially in Manchester. Little things will be essential. We have to move more, pass the ball better and concentrate, then we can show what we can do. We have to be at our absolute best in every match and we demand this from the team every time.
Friday: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 1-2 Leverkusen (Schipplock 88; Sam 26, Kiessling 70)
Leno; Hilbert (Donati 86), Wollscheid (Spahić 46), Toprak, Boenisch; Castro, Reinartz, Rolfes; Sam (Kruse 80), Kiessling, Hegeler.
• Leverkusen went top of the Bundesliga table for 24 hours with goalkeeper Bernd Leno saving a 70th-minute penalty to make it seven wins from nine league outings. They have scored in every home league game.
Lars Bender has been training alone and will not feature against Shakhtar, with midfielder Levin Öztunali also absent. In his first match since returning from the injury that kept him out since 14 September, Gonzalo Castro set up both Leverkusen goals at Hoffenheim.
Mircea Lucescu, coach
We are here to take all three points. We know it will be quite difficult, although Shakhtar tend to play very well against German sides. Often these back-to-back matches against one team are key to deciding whether you advance from the group phase or not.
These are two very different sides. Leverkusen are a very physical team with tough players; Shakhtar try to control the match with technical skill. We have to be wary of their counterattacks and threat from free-kicks and corners because these will be dangerous. When Leverkusen attack, they attack with many players so we might be able to benefit from this.
I hope it's a great game and Donetsk can try to earn even more respect in Europe.
Saturday: FC Illychivets Mariupil 1-3 Shakhtar (Stepanenko og 38; Srna 66pen 73pen, Luiz Adriano 85)
Pyatov; Ilsinho, Kryvtsov (Volovyk 59), Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Fernando (Srna 45), Stepanenko, Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira, Taison (Ferreyra 56); Luiz Adriano.
• Darijo Srna came off the bench in heavy rain to turn the game in Shakhtar's favour and end a run of three winless Premier League away fixtures. They have scored in their last 31 competitive matches.
Serhiy Kryvtsov injured his ankle at Illychivets but has travelled to Germany.
• Leverkusen's overall home record against Ukrainian clubs is W3 D2 L0. The last Ukrainian visitors to the BayArena in the UEFA Champions League were FC Dynamo Kyiv in December 2004 when a 3-0 home victory took Klaus Augenthaler's men into the round of 16.
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