Darijo Srna will replace the suspended Dmytro Chygrynskiy as FC Shakhtar Donetsk captain against Celtic FC and believes he will lead his team to victory.
Darijo Srna will replace the suspended Dmytro Chygrynskiy as FC Shakhtar Donetsk captain against Celtic FC on Tuesday – and the stand-in skipper believes he will lead his team to victory.
The 25-year-old Croatian international has featured in Shakhtar's last two UEFA Champions League group stage campaigns, including the 2004/05 edition when they beat Celtic 3-0 in Ukraine. That season, like last term and their 2000/01 debut, they missed out on the knockout phase but Srna is determined to put that right – he points to their fine home record in the tournament with only two defeats in nine games and wins against the likes of FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC. "As our coach Mircea Lucescu has said, Celtic are better than three years ago, but Shakhtar are better as well," he said. "We respect Celtic but we are a better team and we will try to prove it on the pitch. Shakhtar will be at home with a full stadium behind us. We are hard to beat at home and our three seasons in the Champions League show that."
Srna, expected to start at right-back rather than in his normal wing position, admits that the defence will have extra pressure on them in the absence of Chygrynskiy. "The most important thing is not to concede a goal," Srna said. "We will have our chances. We need to score and with three years of experience in the Champions League we have what it takes. If we want to get to the knockout stage, we need to avoid schoolboy errors. It is important to start well."
Fifteen Shakhtar players were in international action last week, and only Srna, fresh from scoring for Croatia against Andorra on Wednesday, and striker Cristiano Lucarelli made the XI for Saturday's 2-0 Premier League victory at FC Chornomorets Odesa. If coach Lucescu had one eye on the Celtic encounter, Srna's focus is firmly on the fixture. "The Champions League cannot be compared to the national team," Srna said. "I played two matches and I have forgotten about them already. I hope everyone else has done the same."