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Shakhtar to be cautious, not cavalier

Having won plaudits, but no points, for an attacking approach at AC Milan, FC Shakhtar Donetsk have promised more pragmatic tactics in Tuesday's return.

Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu
Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu ©Getty Images

Having won plaudits, but no points, for an attacking approach at AC Milan a fortnight ago, FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu is promising more pragmatic tactics in Tuesday's return fixture at the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium.

'Tough match'
With Shakhtar losing 4-1 at San Siro to leave both clubs locked on six points, three above SL Benfica and Celtic FC, in Group D, Lucescu is determined to take something from this penultimate home game. "We're in for a very tough match, but it will be tough for Milan too," said the Romanian, who can again select from a full-strength squad.

'More careful'
"Both teams will play for victory, but if it's a draw I suppose both sides will be satisfied. We were criticised for not playing defensively in Milan but even at 2-0 down, we tried to show what we've got. "From the outset, we will be much more careful than we were there," he continued. "We will not attempt to replicate Celtic's approach against the Italians."

'Never give in'
If a typically tub-thumping showing in Glasgow enabled the Scottish champions to beat their European counterparts 2-1 on Matchday 2, Lucescu is urging his team to play "a bit calmer" than in Saturday's 1-0 victory at FC Metalurh Donetsk – when Fernandinho's 88th-minute winner for ten-man Shakhtar maintained a six-point advantage in Ukraine's Premier League. "We never give in. No matter how many players are left – ten, even nine – this team will battle to the last," Lucescu said.

Shakhtar's determination is not in doubt, although their defending of set-pieces is. The coach explained: "The most important thing is for us to avoid conceding goals from free-kicks and corners. I can remember a famous Andrés Palop goal from a corner which stole a victory against Sevilla [FC] from us." That strike came four minutes into added time in a UEFA Cup Round of 16 second leg in March, sending the tie to extra time and, eventually, the Spanish club to glory in the competition.

'Very dangerous'
Milan will hope their season can be similarly turned round, as a weekend scoreless draw against Torino FC left them without a home Serie A victory this term. "It's a vital match for us and we've prepared accordingly," said Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti, possibly glad to be away from his team's famous home. "Shakhtar are very dangerous here but their fans' support will not be decisive – players usually win matches, not fans. It's important for us to win but anything is possible."

Ronaldo chance
Although left-back Marek Jankulovski is missing, right-back Massimo Oddo is available following a thigh problem and could replace Cafu. Brazilian forward Ronaldo is also in contention for a first UEFA Champions League outing of the campaign after overcoming a thigh injury of his own. "Ronaldo has been training very well and is returning to his best form," said Ancelotti. "He will probably play a part although I'm not sure how much time he'll spend on the pitch."