Shakhtar Donetsk host Bayer Leverkusen at the Donbass Arena on Tuesday night, well aware that they cannot afford to lose if they still hope to progress to the last 16 of this season's Champions League campaign.
The German outfit beat the Ukrainian champions 4-0 in the reverse fixture in Germany a fortnight ago, leaving Mircea Lucescu's men with just four points from their opening three games.
"This game is important for both teams in the competition for a place in knockout stages. A win in the first match has given them a major advantage, because head-to-head results are the first tie-break criteria; that's how we finished above Chelsea last year," pointed out Lucescu
Leverkusen, on the other hand, have six points from their first three matches and will move a step closer to qualification, if they can manage another win or even a draw at Shakhtar. Sami Hyypia's side are also enjoying a good run of form in the Bundesliga and are just four points below Bayern Munich.
"They're a very strong Shakhtar side and now they're playing at home, so I expect it will be a very difficult match for us. Tomorrow we need to have our best and most experienced players on the pitch, as this game is decisive. If we will win, we'll be very close to qualifying for the knockout stage," Hyypia noted.
Team News: Both Bernard and Facundo Ferreyra are injury doubts for Shakhtar, while Stefan Reinartz joins Andres Palop on the sidelines for Leverkusen.
Shakhtar: Winger Alex Teixeira has been in good form for the Ukrainians both domestically and in Europe and the Brazilian will be a player to keep an eye on.
Leverkusen: Striker Stefan Kiessling scored a brace in the reverse fixture and has continued his good form in the Bundesliga but midfielder Simon Rolfes has been the go-to man for the Germans in Europe this term, with the 31-year-old producing a goal in every game so far.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 1.15am IST on Wednesday, with no live telecast in India. For the Live Blog, click HERE.
Leverkusen: Leno; Castro, Spahic, Boenisch, Toprak; Donati, Rolfes, Can, Sam; Son, Kiessling
Shakhtar: Pyatov; Srna, Kryvtsov, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Fernando, Stepanenko; Teixeira, Costa, Taison; Adriano
Prediction: 2-1 to Shakhtar