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UEFA Youth League final: Shakhtar v Chelsea

The best teams in the competition meet in Monday's final: unbeaten FC Shakhtar Donetsk and a Chelsea FC side that have won eight out of nine. Something has to give.

UEFA Youth League final build-up ©Getty Images for UEFA

Discovering what is stronger between a rock and a hard place may well be the key to resolving the UEFA Youth League this year.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea FC have both reached the final thanks in no small part to their rock-solid foundations. The Ukrainian team's goalkeeper Oleh Kudryk has been beaten just six times over the course of his side's unbeaten march to the final, but Chelsea have the meanest defence of them all. They have conceded only four in nine matches, including six clean sheets.

The Blues also boast the most prolific attack in the competition with 33 goals, and the leading scorer in the competition Domenic Solanke underlined his value with a brace in their 4-0 semi-final victory over AS Roma. That took last year's UEFA European Under-17 Championship winner to 11 for the tournament. He is one of many standout performers in the Chelsea ranks.

Highlights: Chelsea 4-0 Roma
Highlights: Chelsea 4-0 Roma

"Dominic's very calm in front of goal," said Chelsea manager Adi Viveash. "I'm proud to work with the calibre of players like that. We're very fortunate with the amount of quality we've got on the pitch.  They're a joy for everybody to watch and it certainly seemed like the crowd enjoyed watching them."

The crowd in Nyon were also wowed by Shakhtar's comeback win against RSC Anderlecht in the first semi-final, a game in which first they extolled their defensive discipline and organisation before accentuating their indomitable attitude. "It's not for nothing that Shakhtar are considered one of the best clubs in Europe," said Viktor Kovalenko, who came off the bench to score two and set up the other in a 3-1 victory.

Highlights: Anderlecht 1-3 Shakhtar Donetsk
Highlights: Anderlecht 1-3 Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar's appearance in the final is certainly no fluke. Although they needed penalties to get past both Olympiacos FC and SL Benfica, an unbeaten campaign has seen a resolve which will give Chelsea plenty to ponder on Monday.

"Something's going to have to give," said Viveash. "We've scored 33 goals and we've played against Zenit, Atlético and Roma; all strong defensive teams. For them to find a way to stop us has been an impossible task and we have to wait and see if Shakhtar can perform that. If they do then we will give them their due respect and say congratulations, but it is a difficult ask."

Difficult but not impossible. Shakhtar have proven how well they can respond to adversity with Kovalenko's inspirational entrance on Friday, rescuing a game which appeared to be slipping away from them. His link-up play with Denys Arendaruk carved up a tiring Anderlecht rearguard. Moreover, it was the third game in a row in which the Ukrainian side have come from behind to triumph.

Chelsea are therefore warned: taking the lead – so crucial to shattering Roma's resistance in the semis – is not tantamount to victory. Shakhtar are a side who simply do not lie down.

"We have to contain their threats – and they have a lot," acknowledged Viveash. "I was very impressed with a lot of their players. They play a really nice brand of football. It should be a really entertaining final, which is what you hope for all the kids and the fans who come to watch."

Chelsea, Shakhtar take on skills challenge
Chelsea, Shakhtar take on skills challenge

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