Shakhtar Donetsk welcome group-stage debutants Hoffenheim to Kharkiv in their opening game in Group F. Both sides will be looking to start fast with this being Shakhtar’s 13th Champions League group campaign. This is Hoffenheim’s Champions League group debut after missing out last season when they lost to Liverpool 6-3 on aggregate in the play-off stage.
Ukranian Side Shakhtar Donetsk Host Germany’s Hoffenheim
With this being Shakhtar Donetsk’s 13th Champions League campaign, they’re no strangers to this competition. They qualified for the competition by winning the Ukrainian Premier League. Shakhtar went out to Roma in the last 16 last season, going out on away goals after drawing 2-2 on aggregate. In last year’s Champions League, Shakhtar won all four home games, beating Napoli, Feyenoord, Manchester City and Roma. They’re currently sat top of the Ukrainian Premier League on 21 points, winning seven and losing just the once.
Making their group stage debut, Hoffenheim face a big ask getting out their group which includes Manchester City and Lyon. Hoffenheim qualified for the Champions League by finishing third in the Bundesliga. They also took part in the Europa League last season but surprisingly failed to get out of the group, finishing bottom of the group which included Braga, Ludogortes and Istanbul Basaksehir. Hoffenheim are the 13th German club to feature in the Champions League – a joint competition record with Spain. Although they are currently struggling this season, currently placed 11th in the league on three points winning just the once and losing twice.
After being appointed Shakhtar Donetsk manager in May 2016, Fonseca has won the Ukrainian Premier League in his first two seasons as well as the domestic double in his first season. This will be his 100th game in charge of Shakhtar and he currently has a win record of 76.77%
Despite only being 28-years-old, Nagelsmann was appointed manager of Hoffenheim in February 2016. When he took the position, Hoffenheim were seven points from safety. He guided Hoffenheim to seven wins in their last 14 games and survived by just one point. In his first full season, he guided them to a fourth-place finish and, last season, Hoffenheim improved on that by finishing third. This will be Nagelsmann’s 99th game in charge with a win percentage of 43.88%
Shakhtar Donetsk will be looking to the Brazilian Junior Moraes to play a big role. In eight appearances this season, the striker has scored seven goals. He arrived from rivals Dynamo Kiev on a free transfer.
Hoffenheim’s in-form striker, Adam Szalai, must be on song if Hoffenheim are to get out of the group stage. Scoring three goals in three league appearances this season means that we could be seeing the 30-year-old’s best season yet.