Shakhtar Donetsk players celebrate against Chelsea.
Shakhtar DonetskReuters

Real Soceidad welcome Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk to San Sebastian on Tuesday night in their opening game of the Champions League group stages.

Soceidad pipped Athleic Bilbao as the dominant team in the Basque region of Spain last season. They achieved qualification to the Champions League through finishing fourth in La Liga, securing the position after an incredible run of 28 games with only three defeats.

Last season's results were achieved under coach Philippe Montanier, who has since departed the club. Montanier has been replaced by Jagoba Arrasate who is confident of his side's chances ahead of the game.

"We know we're in a group that's difficult but attractive at the same time," he said. "This game is very important, we're playing at home in what is a short group stage and we want to play a good match. And if we play to our level, I am confident we can win.

"We'll be trying to impose our own style and it should be an open and attractive game." 

Under Arrasate, Sociedad impressively defeated Lyon 4-0 aggregate in the play-offs to enter the group stages. However, their league form has been average in the first four games. The Basque side has won only once, drawn twice and lost once. Their last fixture was a disappointing 0-0 draw with Levante.

In Shakhtar, they face a team who set the competition alight last season. Against Chelsea, in particular, the Ukrainian team played some great football, winning at home and scoring twice at Stamford Bridge. They qualified for the knockout stages only to be defeated by eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund.

Coach Mircea Lucescu is wary of the threat posed by tonight's opponents.

"Real Sociedad are a good team," he said. "Any team that play in the Spanish league as they do and qualify for the Champions League are a difficult team. They're a well-structured team, they have top-class players and they're playing at home in front of their supporters."

For all of their impressive performances last season, Shakhtar still have a poor away record in Europe, winning only two of their last eight fixtures.

Team News

Sociedad's star midfielder from last season Asier Illarramendi has been sold to Real Madrid for a fee of €30million. The club have replaced him with Esteban Granero from Queens Park Rangers. Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela represents the main attacking threat for the Spanish team and is expected to start.

Shakhtar, like many clubs outside of the traditional European powers, have had many of their star players poached by different teams across the continent. Willian, Fernandinho and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all left the club. Lucescu has been active in finding replacements. Shakhtar fans will be most encouraged by the signing of Brazilian quartet Bernard, Fred, Fernando and Wellington. Up front they have secured the transfer of Anton Shynder.

Where to Watch

Kick-off is at 12:15 am IST (Wednesday, September 18).