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Shakhtar aim to graduate against Juventus

FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu likens his side to "a student whose goal is to get into higher education" but Juventus are determined to provide a stern test.

Mircea Lucescu speaks to the assembled media in Donetsk on Tuesday
Mircea Lucescu speaks to the assembled media in Donetsk on Tuesday ©AFP/Getty Images

The task may be clear for FC Shakhtar Donetsk but Mircea Lucescu is demanding they do not take their foot off the pedal as they seek the point they need against Juventus to wrap up top spot in UEFA Champions League Group E. For Bianconeri assistant coach Angelo Alessio, the only route to success for the Serie A leaders is to set the tone with early pressure on their hosts.

Shakhtar are through and will clinch first place with a win or a draw.

• Juventus will finish first with a victory against Shakhtar, and will be through with a draw. They will also progress if they lose and third-placed Chelsea FC fail to beat FC Nordsjælland.

Mircea Lucescu, coach

It is an extraordinary situation – two big clubs like Chelsea and Juventus are depending on our result, since Shakhtar are top of the group. What could be better than this? All of us – the president, coaches, players, club and supporters – are very proud.

I am not thinking about Chelsea, because all my thoughts are on Juventus. This term, only two teams have been good enough to defeat Juve – Inter and Milan. Our opponents have huge motivation as they cannot afford to lose, but we want to win anyway. This game is like a very important exam, if you can imagine Shakhtar as a student whose goal is to get into higher education. As for Juventus, given their history, traditions and squad, you could compare them to a wise professor from the Academy of Sciences.

We have a goal before us, to finish first in our group. Many things can affect the result, but the most important one is the quality of our football.

Weekend result
Friday: FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih 0-2 Shakhtar (Mkhitaryan 29, Alex Teixeira 47)

Pyatov; Srna (Ilsinho 76), Kucher, Rakitskiy, Raţ; Stepanenko, Fernandinho, Alex Teixeira (Douglas Costa 76), Mkhitaryan, Willian; Eduardo (Dević 59).

• Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck his 18th Premier League goal of the season – already the best return for a campaign by a Shakhtar player since Oleksiy Byelik (21) in 2002/03 – as the Pitmen claimed their third successive win in all competitions. Both sides had players sent off, with Fernandinho (52) followed by the hosts' Olexiy Antonov (69).

Team news
Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Tomáš Hübschman (both thigh) are absentees, with Taras Stepanenko expected to deputise for the latter. Luiz Adriano is suspended. Lucescu said: "We have two strong forwards who can replace [Luiz Adriano] – the experienced Eduardo and the aggressive Marko Dević. One of them will play."

Angelo Alessio, assistant coach

I think we have been improving from game to game, so I am very optimistic about the match in Donetsk. We should concentrate from the start, stay focused and fight for every ball. Control of the ball will be crucial, as we need to press them and not allow them to play the football they want to play. Our actions during the opening minutes will be very important.

What do I think about the student-professor metaphor used by Lucescu? Well, he's very smart and a clever person, so maybe the Shakhtar coach deliberately talked down the strengths of his own side. I don't think Shakhtar will look like a student tomorrow.

It's always difficult to predict the final result. There are a lot of possibilities and different scenarios but we'll push it all the way.

Weekend result
Saturday: Juventus 3-0 Torino FC (Marchisio 57 84, Giovinco 67)

Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, De Ceglie (Asamoah 61); Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio; Giaccherini (Bendtner 46), Vučinić, Giovinco (Matri 79).

• Juventus made their numerical advantage count in the Derby della Mole after Kamil Glik was sent off on 36 minutes, even if Andrea Pirlo failed to convert a penalty before half-time.

Team news
Simone Pepe did not travel because of a left thigh complaint; Lúcio and Nicklas Bendtner also miss out with adductor problems. Giorgio Chiellini is doubtful with a calf injury, though Martín Cáceres looks ready to fill in having recovered from a twisted ankle.

Match fact
• Lucescu faced Juventus nine times in the 1990s as coach of Serie A sides AC Pisa 1909, Brescia Calcio, AC Reggiana 1919 and FC Internazionale Milano. His only victory was Brescia's 2-0 home win on 14 March 1994 – four games were lost and the other four drawn. Lucescu's final league match against Juventus was Inter's 0-0 draw on 27 February 1999.

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