With a tough tie against FC Bayern München up next, Champions Matchday looks at why FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu still has reasons to be optimistic.
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Ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie against FC Bayern München, FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu said: "Naturally Bayern are favourites but in football anything is possible." Here are five reasons for the Romanian to hold onto hope.
Luiz Adriano's goals
"I always trusted him," Lucescu says of his Brazilian international No9. "Everyone was leaving and I let them leave – but I kept him." It paid off. Signed in 2007, Luiz Adriano has been Shakhtar's top scorer for the past five seasons. His nine goals in the latest group stage came from just 11 attempts on target, so Bayern beware.
Fernando's ball retention
Only 22 and in his second term at Shakhtar, Fernando is already a key player for Lucescu. The holding midfielder was signed from Grêmio Foot-ball Porto Alegrense to replace Fernandinho. The transition was seamless. With Bayern boasting 64% possession in the group stage, Fernando's ability to close opponents down and use the ball perceptively (his pass completion rate in Group H was 94%) will be vital.
Douglas Costa's vision
Shakhtar's creative hub, Costa can operate across the line – either in a wide position or just behind the striker in Shakhtar's 4-2-3-1 template. His capacity to run at defenders with pace and craft opportunities will test Bayern.
Darijo Srna's experience
Captain of club and country, the 32-year-old Croatia right-back is in his 12th campaign with the Pitmen. His acceleration and experience could be crucial in this tie. Tests at the 2014 FIFA World Cup clocked Srna's top speed at 33.0km/h, compared with 31.6km/h for Arjen Robben. Srna's speed of thought will also help him marshal Shakhtar's defence.
Alex Teixeira's quality
Inspiring his fellow Brazilians with an invaluable combination of attacking brio and tireless effort, Teixeira often drifts into pockets of space between the lines and links with Luiz Adriano and Taison up front. The 25-year-old was ever-present in the group phase, netting three goals. He is Lucescu's coach on the pitch, carrying out the Romanian's instructions and organising the Pitmen.