Athletic, Porto, Shakhtar, BATE set
Thursday, 28 August 2014
There will be short trips for Athletic Club and FC Porto to meet each other but they will go further afield when they visit FC Shakhtar Dontesk and FC BATE Borisov in Group H.
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Group H: FC Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Porto, FC BATE Borisov, Athletic Club
• Porto beat Shakhtar twice in the 2011/12 group stage, winning 2-0 in Ukraine and 2-1 at home.
• Athletic's sole previous UEFA Champions League campaign came in 1998/99.
• Porto failed to win any of their three home games in last season's group stage, losing to Club Atlético de Madrid (1-2) and FC Zenit (0-1) and drawing 1-1 with FK Austria Wien.
• Athletic were 5-3 aggregate victors against Porto in the 1956/57 European Champion Clubs' Cup preliminary round, in what was both clubs' first continental tie. The Spanish club went on to reach the quarter-finals, their best run in the competition.
• BATE are in the group stage for the fourth time overall, and the third time in four seasons – they went out in the second qualifying round in 2013/14.
Aleksandr Cherkasov, Shakhtar general secretary
I believe it is a good draw, the group is finely balanced. Now all of the teams will try to win. They all have this conviction. We will see how it pans out. Our aim is also to win.
We've already played against [Porto] three years ago. We weren't successful in those matches. Furthermore, we have a long history [with Porto]. Thirty years ago, we played against them in the Cup Winners' Cup - that was unsuccessful also! We hope that it will be third time lucky!
Darijo Srna, Shakhtar captain
We could have got some weaker opponents, though we could also have got some stronger opponents. Porto are a difficult team to face and we have to respect them as they are coming from pot one. Athletic are also a top side and there's always a lively atmosphere at their stadium. BATE, despite their outsiders' tag, have a lot of experience and we should be wary of them. The Champions League is the most important tournament, thus we will be at our maximum for all of these games. We want to give our fans something to cheer about in this difficult situation. Unfortunately we will have to play our home games in Lviv, but we will have support there as well. Shakhtar have to qualify from this group.
Julen Lopetegui, Porto coach
We knew that every group would be difficult, and I think this one is, and mostly an even section. Shakhtar are used to playing in the Champions League. Athletic are a team with tremendous energy and deserved to beat Napoli. They are very good and difficult to beat, with a spectacular stadium and wonderful supporters. Lastly, BATE Borisov present several difficulties, for a number of reasons.
It will be a tough group to break, an even one. It couldn't be any other way. On a personal note, it's always special to go back [Lopetegui is from the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country], and the game in Bilbao will be special and beautiful.
Yegor Filipenko, BATE defender
I am not happy – to be honest, I am very disappointed. First of all they deprived us of a meeting with Madrid, and then the opponents – I did want to be drawn against Porto and Shakhtar. But it is a draw and we will do our best.
Aleksandr Yermakovich, BATE coach
We are not going to be satisfied with little things. We want to earn points and to make our fans happy with quality football, especially at home.
Carlos Gurpegi, Athletic captain
I can't say anything new about Porto – our game will be a classic Champions League match which will allow thousands of our fans to travel and support us. On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to the long journeys to Ukraine and Belarus, but that's what it takes to be in this competition.
Aritz Aduriz, Athletic forward
Porto are the biggest club and they have players and a coach that know our league very well, but we also know them and it's going to be a very competitive battle. The worst thing about Shakhtar Donetsk and BATE Borisov are the long journeys that we'll have to take. But regardless, in spite of the difficulties, I think we have a good chance of going through.
At first glance the team that enjoyed the most luck were Athletic – and they were the only Spanish team that were not top seeds.
Athletic were fortunate as they avoided strong sides such as FC Bayern München, Manchester City FC, Arsenal FC and Borussia Dortmund.