Standing between Wolfsburg and a third UEFA Europa League quarter-final are Shakhtar Donetsk as the clubs meet for the first time.
Standing between Wolfsburg and a third UEFA Europa League quarter-final are serial Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk as the clubs meet for the first time in European competition.
• Wolfsburg came through the group stage as runners-up to Gent, on 11 points, before comfortably disposing of Swedish side Malmö in the round of 32, adding a 3-0 away success to a 2-1 home win with goals in each game from Croatian international Josip Brekalo.
• Shakhtar entered this season's UEFA Champions League at the group stage, but their hopes of prolonging the campaign into the spring were dashed by a closing 0-3 home defeat by Atalanta, who thus pipped them to the runners-up spot behind Manchester City by one point. Benfica, who had also moved across from the UEFA Champions League, were then overcome in the round of 32 as Shakhtar won 2-1 in Kharkiv before sealing qualification with a come-from-behind 3-3 draw in Lisbon, Brazilian midfielder Alan Patrick scoring eye-catching goals in both legs.
• Wolfsburg met Ukrainian opposition in UEFA competition for the first time earlier this season, beating UEFA Europa League group stage debutants Olexandriya home (3-1) and away (1-0).
• Shakhtar have faced German clubs 22 times previously and have the record W7 D8 L7, the most precious win having come on neutral terrain when they defeated Werder Bremen 2-1 after extra time in Istanbul to win the last ever UEFA Cup in 2008/09. They have won four of their 11 encounters in Germany, losing six, the latest 1-4 at Eintracht Frankfurt to go out of last season's UEFA Europa League in the round of 32. It was on German soil that they suffered their heaviest European defeat, losing 7-0 at Bayern München in the second leg of the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League round of 16.
• A sixth-placed finish in last season's Bundesliga gave Wolfsburg direct entry into the UEFA Europa League group stage and a first European adventure since they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16.
• Wolfsburg made it three UEFA Europa League group stage qualifications out of three as they finished runners-up to Gent this season, six of their points coming against Olexandriya and four against Saint-Étienne (1-1 a, 1-0 h).
• Victory over Malmö has put the German club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time, their previous two ties at this stage having both ended in victory – against Rubin in 2009/10 (1-1 a, 2-1 h) and Internazionale in 2014/15 (3-1 h, 2-1 a).
• Quarter-finalists also in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League and therefore in each of their last three continental campaigns, Wolfsburg have won eight of their last nine European home games, the exception a 1-3 defeat by Gent on Matchday 4. They have won eight of their 13 home matches in the UEFA Europa League (D1 L4).
• Shakhtar won the Ukrainian league last season, claiming the title for the 12th time and also completing a domestic double for the third season in a row, which gave them a third successive appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage – and 14th in all.
• The Pitmen picked up only one victory in the group stage this season, 2-1 at Atalanta with an added-time winner on Matchday 2. They then drew three games in succession, two against Dinamo Zagreb (2-2 h, 3-3 a) and the third, 1-1, away to a Manchester City side who had beaten them 3-0 in Kharkiv on Matchday 1. They ended the section with that decisive defeat by Atalanta to book a fourth UEFA Europa League knockout phase berth in five seasons.
• The elimination of Benfica has put Shakhtar into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second time. They were victorious on their only previous visit, overcoming Anderlecht 4-1 on aggregate in 2015/16 (3-1 h, 1-0 a) with Taison opening the scoring in the first leg in Lviv.
• The Donetsk club have a positive balance away from home in the competition's knockout phase of W4 D2 L3. Their away record in the competition overall, qualifying included, is an even more impressive W11 D2 L4.
Links and trivia
• Shakhtar's Yevhen Konoplyanka played in Germany for Schalke from 2016–19. He only played once, as a late substitute, against Wolfsburg, in a 1-1 home draw in October 2017, remaining on the bench for three other games between the two teams.
• Wolfsburg's Swiss international Admir Mehmedi played in Ukraine for Dynamo Kyiv from 2012–13, losing two games against Shakhtar and appearing as a substitute in both.
• Shakhtar are one of four UEFA Champions League group stage participants to have reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16, along with Bayer Leverkusen, Internazionale and Olympiacos.
• Although there are no Portuguese clubs in the round of 16, four of them having dropped out in the round of 32, Shakhtar boss Luís Castro is one of four Portuguese head coaches still involved in the competition, alongside Nuno Espírito Santo (Wolves), Pedro Martins (Olympiacos) and Paulo Fonseca (Roma).
• Wolfsburg drew 0-0 at home to Leipzig in the Bundesliga last Saturday, failing to score for the first time in 2020 but extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches (W5 D3).
• Ukrainian Premier League leaders Shakhtar were defeated 1-0 at Vorskla Poltava on 1 March – their first loss in 49 domestic league fixtures (W41 D7) since Dynamo Kyiv beat them 1-0 on 3 August 2018. Nevertheless, they remain 14 points clear of Dynamo at the top of the standings following subsequent wins against Dnipro (4-1 h) and Kolos Kovalivka (4-3 a).
• Austrian coach Oliver Glasner signed a three-year contract in the spring of 2019 to succeed Bruno Labbadia at Wolfsburg. He arrived in Germany with a growing reputation having led LASK Linz to a runners-up spot in the Austrian Bundesliga just two seasons after steering the club to promotion from the second tier. A former centre-back, Glasner spent virtually his entire career with Ried, with whom he won the Austrian Cup twice, 13 years apart, in 1998 and 2011. He also spent a season as the club's coach before joining LASK in 2015.
• Appointed Shakhtar Donetsk head coach in June 2019, Luís Castro replaced his compatriot Paulo Fonseca – a move he had also previously made back in 2014 when he stepped in as an interim replacement for the current Roma boss at Porto. A right-back, he spent most of his 17-year playing career in the lower leagues, and he also made a relatively discreet start in coaching before joining top-flight Penafiel in 2004. He was on Porto's coaching staff for a decade (2006–16) before spending one season apiece as the head coach of Rio Ave, Chaves and Vitória SC.