FC Shakhtar Donetsk may have reached the knockout phase last month, but Mircea Lucescu insists his side have plenty to play for as they aim to clinch top spot in Group J against Club Brugge KV.
Article top media content
FC Shakhtar Donetsk may have earned a place in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase last month, but Mircea Lucescu insists his side still have plenty to play for as they look to clinch top spot in Group J at home to Club Brugge KV.
Last season's UEFA Cup winners have been in unforgiving mood in the section, winning all four of their games and scoring 14 times in the process. They won 4-1 at Club Brugge on Matchday 1 and Lucescu insists there will be no let up as he targets a victory No5. "We really want to finish first," said the Romanian, whose side boast one of two perfect records in the competition along with FC Salzburg. "It is important for our image and we also want to keep winning to improve the club's coefficient. If we come into this game too relaxed we will be punished."
Brugge are second in Group J, three points above third-placed Toulouse FC and have impressed Lucescu with their away performances this campaign. They drew 2-2 in France, won 4-2 away to FK Partizan and Lucescu counselled against expecting a repeat of the victory Shakhtar enjoyed at the Jan Breydel Stadium. "Brugge will not be anything like the team we beat 4-1," he warned. "They will be much better prepared."
Centre-back Olexandr Kucher is poised for a return to action after sitting out Shakhtar's past two matches with a badly bruised leg, as is the talismanic Fernandinho, fit again after illness. "The fact we have already qualified for the knockout phase will not affect our attitude towards this match," said Jadson. "A Europa League match is important regardless of our position of the table."
Revenge, meanwhile, is not on the mind of Club Brugge coach Adrie Koster, who admitted "our goal is to get a point here in Donetsk". His primary concern is to keep ahead of Toulouse, Club Brugge's opponents in Belgium on Matchday 6, and defender Carl Hoefkens added: "Clearly Shakhtar are the strongest team in our group. They should be in the Champions League. Their results tell you about their strengths. We want to be able to say we deserve to be here. We want to play our best."