FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic FC meet in their opening Group D fixture both aiming to avoid the fate that befell them when they were last drawn together.
FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic FC meet in their opening Group D fixture both aiming to avoid the fate that befell them when they were last drawn together in the UEFA Champions League. Then, in season 2004/05, neither side made it beyond the group stage and, with holders AC Milan the undoubted favourites to win this section, a losing start for either here would leave them facing an uphill struggle to finish in the top two.
• There are grounds for optimism in both camps. Shakhtar may have missed out on the knockout stages in their three previous group stage campaigns but they have a strong home record in the competition, having registered five wins and two draws in nine matches at their RSC Olympiyskiy stadium.
• As for Celtic, champions of Europe in 1967, they will be determined to build on their success of last season where, at the fourth attempt, they progressed for the first time to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in its modern format.
• Second in the Ukrainian Premier League last season, Mircea Lucescu's team reached the group stage by retrieving a two-goal deficit to defeat FC Salzburg in the third qualifying round. Already trailing 1-0 after a first-leg loss in Austria, Shakhtar fell further behind when Remo Meyer struck five minutes into the return. However, goals from Cristiano Lucarelli (9) and substitutes Nery Alberto Castillo (79) and Brandão (87) earned the Ukrainian side victory.
• Scottish champions Celtic also progressed in dramatic circumstances, overcoming FC Spartak Moskva 4-3 on penalties after two 1-1 draws. Gordon Strachan’s side led in both ties, but strikes from Paul Hartley in Moscow and Scott McDonald in Glasgow were cancelled out by Roman Pavlyuchenko on each occasion. Both Pavlyuchenko and Celtic's Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink missed penalties in the return fixture before the concluding shootout where two saves from Artur Boruc proved decisive.
• Shakhtar were 3-0 winners when the teams met in Ukraine on 20 October 2004, prevailing through second-half goals from Matuzalem (2) and Brandão. It was their first encounter with a Scottish side.
• The lineups for the match were:
Shakhtar - Jan Laštuvka; Flavius Stoican, Cosmin Barcauan, Mariusz Lewandowski, Razvan Rat; Andriy Vorobey (Brandão), Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Matuzalem; Zvonimir Vukić; Julius Agahowa (Darijo Srna), Ciprian Marica (Igor Duljaj)
Celtic - David Marshall; Didier Agathe, Stanislav Varga, Dianbobo Balde, Jackie McNamara (Stephen McManus); Stilian Petrov, Neil Lennon, Chris Sutton, Juninho Paulista (Aiden McGeady); John Hartson, Henri Camara.
• Six Shakhtar players in action that day are still at the club – Brandão, Duljaj, Lewandowski, Rat, Srna and Vukić – but only three from that Celtic side remain – Balde, McGeady and McManus.
• Celtic won the return 1-0 – only their second victory in eight past meetings with Ukrainian opposition.
• Celtic reached the first knockout round of last season's competition thanks to their formidable home form. They won all three home games in the group stage while losing every match outside Celtic Park. In the first knockout round, an extra-time Kaká strike at San Siro consigned them to a 1-0 aggregate defeat by Milan.
• Those four away defeats in last term's competition mean Celtic have lost 12 of 13 previous away matches in the UEFA Champions League.
• Shakhtar lost fewer games than Celtic in the 2006/07 group stage – only two and both away from home – but the fact they only won once, a 1-0 home success against AS Roma, consigned them to third place in their section.
• They duly stepped into the UEFA Cup where their hopes were extinguished in the Round of 16 by eventual winners Sevilla FC, who won 3-2 in Donetsk after a 2-2 draw in Spain.