Metalurg Donetsk v Shakhtar Donetsk – Saturday 16th July – Metalurh Stadium (18:00)
The Ukrainian Premier League kicked off last weekend with defending Champions Shakhtar Donetsk starting their season with a convincing win. This weekend see’s them travel to local rivals Metalurg Donetsk in what is known as the fierce Donetsk Derby.
It isn’t easy playing second fiddle to the top team in Ukraine and Metalurg fans regard this match as their most important as they get a rare chance to have bragging rights over their city rivals. The club finished in a respectable 8th place finish last season and will be aiming for a Europa league qualifying spot finish this season. Like Shakhtar, Metalurg also kicked off their season with a bang. They picked up a hard earned 1-0 away win over newcomers Chornomorets. Although the matches against Shakhtar at Metalurg have been competitive with Metalurg losing by mainly 1 goal in recent seasons, Metalurg have failed to beat Shakhter. Since 1996 they have met in 28 league matches with Shakhtar winning 26 and drawing only 2.
Shakhtar showed why they are favourites to defend their league title when they thumped Obolon 4-0 in their opening match of the season. Shakhtar dominated possession and attacked throughout the match. An amazing statistic is that they did not allow their opponents a shot on goal during the 90 minutes with only a few efforts going wide. Shakhtar have won the league title 6 times since 2000 and have finished runners up to rivals Dynamo on the other 5 occasions. Their fluid style of play is influenced by the strong contingent of Brazilian midfielders and strikers they have and they rely on some of the strongest Ukrainian defenders to keep things tight at the back. Their defence leaked a record 16 goals last season in 30 matches and managed to score 53 goals. Their incredible showing at last season’s Champions League impressed many football analysts and they have proved that they can take on the world’s best clubs. The club also became the first Ukrainian club to win the UEFA Cup in 2009. Ex Arsenal striker Eduardo is a key player for the team and his partnership with Brazilian’s Luiz Adriano and Fernandinho is a lethal one.
Shakhtar had the best away record in the league last season winning 10 of their 15 away trips, drawing 2 and losing just 3. They should continue that winning form in their first away match of the season here.