Napoli head east for Shakhtar opener
Wednesday, 6 September 2017
For the second year running, Napoli are in Ukraine on matchday one and, having won at Dynamo Kyiv 12 months ago, they will be keen to repeat the trick at Shakhtar Donetsk.
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This week, football fans watching UEFA Champions League matches in stadiums, online and on TV will witness the premiere of the new UEFA RESPECT TV ads, called #EqualGame. The adverts feature Ada Hegerberg, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and amateur players and will run throughout the season to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in European Football with the motto "Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from, or how you play."
More information on the campaign and on the advertisements can be found in the accompanying media release and on the campaign website: www.equalgame.com.
FC Shakhtar Donetsk and SSC Napoli have never met but both have plenty of UEFA Champions League pedigree as they kick off Group F.
• Shakhtar have had 11 previous seasons in the UEFA Champions League group stage while this is Napoli's fourth group campaign.
• This is Shakhtar's seventh group stage campaign in eight seasons and their 12th overall – all since 2000. They have progressed to the last 16 on three occasions: 2010/11 (when they reached the quarter-finals), 2012/13 and 2014/15.
• In 2016/17, the Ukrainian club lost to BSC Young Boys in the third qualifying round (2-0 home, 0-2 away, 2-4 on penalties). They eventually got to the UEFA Europa League round of 32, losing to RC Celta de Vigo (1-0 away, 0-2 home aet).
• That Celta defeat ended Shakhtar's five-game winning run, and a nine-match unbeaten streak, at home in Europe.
• The Donetsk team – who will play their UEFA Champions League home games in Kharkiv this season, due to the political situation in Ukraine – have won only three of their last 12 home fixtures in the competition, group stage to final.
• Márcio Azevedo, Taison and Marlos all called the OSK Metalist Stadium home before joining Shakhtar from FC Metalist Kharkiv.
• Shakhtar's last home game against Italian opposition was a 1-0 matchday six defeat by Juventus on 5 December 2012.
• Their home record against Serie A clubs is W3 D0 L6; overall it is W4 D2 L12.
• Napoli are in the group stage for the second year in a row. In 2016/17, the Partenopei lost to eventual champions Real Madrid CF in the round of 16, going down 3-1 away and at home.
• Twelve months ago Napoli were also in Ukraine, visiting FC Dynamo Kyiv on matchday one. Arkadiusz Milik scored both goals in a 2-1 victory in a game played on 13 September 2016 – exactly a year before this fixture.
• That was Napoli's first win in Ukraine, after a 3-1 loss to FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League group stage and a 1-0 defeat away to the same opponents in the semi-final of the same competition two years later.
• Napoli drew 0-0 at home to Dynamo in last season's group stage. Their overall record against Ukrainian clubs is W2 D2 L2.
• The Italian side qualified for this season's group stage by beating OGC Nice 2-0 both home and away in the play-offs.
• Napoli have lost just twice in nine European away games since the start of 2015/16 (W6 D1).
Coach and player links
• Marko Rog linked up with Shakhtar's Darijo Srna in the Croatia squad at UEFA EURO 2016.
• Vlad Chiricheş was in the Romania team beaten 4-3 by Ukraine in a friendly on 29 May 2016. Andriy Pyatov, Bohdan Butko, Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Taras Stepanenko all featured for the winning side.
• Marek Hamšík set up the only goal when Slovakia won 1-0 in Ukraine on 8 September 2014 in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying. Pyatov, Rakitskiy and Stepanenko appeared for the hosts.
• Piotr Zieliński was in the Poland team beaten 1-0 by Ukraine at the OSK Metalist Stadion in Kharkiv on 11 October 2013. Pyatov, Rakitskiy and Stepanenko played for the opposition.
• Former Shakhtar forward Yevhen Seleznyov scored both Dnipro goals against Napoli in that 2014/15 UEFA Europa League semi-final, a 2-1 aggregate loss for the Neapolitans.
• Zieliński and Milik helped Poland overcome Ukraine 1-0 in the group stage of UEFA EURO 2016. Pyatov, Butko, Stepanenko and Viktor Kovalenko all featured for Ukraine.
• Rog was a late substitute when Croatia edged Ukraine 1-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifying on 24 March 2017. Pyatov, Butko, Stepanenko, Ivan Ordets and Kovalenko were involved for Ukraine.
• Played together:
Alan Patrick & Rafael Cabral (Santos FC, 2010–11)
• Facundo Ferreyra scored twice as Shakhtar defeated Dynamo 2-0 in the Ukrainian Super Cup on 15 July.
• The Pitmen have won their last five games, and seven of their eight league matches this term, losing the other to Dynamo.
• Serhiy Kryvtsov fractured his right kneecap in Saturday's 3-1 win against FC Zorya and is expected to be out for up to eight weeks.
• Napoli have started the season with five consecutive victories in all competitions, beating Bologna FC 3-0 at the weekend.
• The Partenopei are on a 17-game unbeaten run (W15 D2). Their last defeat was the 3-1 home loss to Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on 7 March.
• Milik scored in the 3-1 win at Hellas Verona FC on the opening weekend of the Serie A campaign – his first league start since suffering a knee injury last October – and again in Poland's 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan in the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup.
• Faouzi Ghoulam was also on target against Verona. It was his first goal for Napoli on what was his 138th appearance for the club.
• Dries Mertens struck in Belgium's 9-0 victory over Gibraltar on 31 August and played the entirety of the 2-1 triumph in Greece three days later, the latter result confirming the Red Devils' qualification for next summer's World Cup.
• Nikola Maksimović was sent off in Serbia's 1-0 success against the Republic of Ireland on 5 September.
• Luigi Sepe extended his contract until 2022 on 31 August.