Douglas Costa hopes FC Shakhtar Donetsk's "magnificent record" at home continues against SC Braga, with just a point needed to end the Pitmen's ten-year wait for a knockout phase place.
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Douglas Costa hopes FC Shakhtar Donetsk's "magnificent record" at home can continue as they take on SC Braga, with a point enough to end the Ukrainian side's ten-year wait for a place in the knockout phase.
Shakhtar are appearing in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the sixth time since first entering the tournament in 2000/01, but have never finished in the top two of their section to qualify for the next phase. However, with just a point required from their last Group H fixture, that wait could soon be over – the club's home form certainly suggesting Mircea Lucescu's side will finally take the next step.
The Ukrainian champions have not lost on their own turf in any competition since a 1-0 UEFA Champions League defeat by Sporting Clube de Portugal on 22 October 2008 – and have yet to be beaten at the Donbass Arena, their home since early autumn 2009. "Shakhtar haven't lost at home to anyone for two years," said Brazilian midfielder Douglas Costa. "This is a magnificent record and we want it to continue.
"We have very strong motivation," added the 20-year-old, who has featured in all of his side's group stage fixtures this season, scoring in the 3-0 win at Braga on Matchday 2. "We don't want to miss this chance to finish first in the group. It's impossible for us to play for a draw. All we need to do is win. It won't be an easy task. They proved their quality when they defeated Arsenal in Portugal [2-0 on Matchday 5]."
Shakhtar have had nothing but the Braga game to occupy their thoughts since 28 November, when they beat FC Arsenal Kyiv in their final Ukrainian Premier League fixture before the winter break. Temperatures in Donetsk dip deep into the minus figures at this time of year, but Douglas Costa says he and his six countrymen at Shakhtar are used to the Ukrainian weather now.
"The cold is not a problem for me and Shakhtar's other Brazilians," he said. "We have played in much lower temperatures than this." Braga and their own Brazilian contingent may not have, but Douglas Costa said: "The weather will not prevent either team from putting in a good performance." He added: "For me, Shakhtar are the stronger side, but there are similarities; both teams like to make the ball work."