Juve v Shakhtar

Two of Europe’s most dominant  domestic teams come face-to-face on Tuesday when Juventus, unbeaten in  their last 45 Serie A matches, host Shakhtar Donetsk, who have won their last 25 games in all competitions. Both teams are the defending champions and current leaders of their respective leagues.

Juventus’ 4-1 win over AS Roma on Saturday has left  them top of Serie A with 16 points from their opening six games and they have not lost a league game since going down to Parma on May 15, 2011,  in the penultimate round of the 2010/11 season.

Shakhtar, who won the Ukrainian league and cup double last season, have won their first 10 matches of the current season, plus the Ukraine Supercup match, the first round of this season’s cup and their opening Champions League match. They won their last nine league games of the previous  season and their run of wins includes the Cup quarter-final, semi-final  and final. The last time they failed to win was in a 1-1 draw with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on March 4.

Shakhtar’s squad includes nine Brazilians, the result of a transfer policy instigated by coach Mircea Lucescu when he took over in 2004. It has paid dividends domestically, with Shakhtar winning six Ukrainian league titles plus the cup on four occasions and the UEFA Cup in 2009 under  the leadership of the Romanian, who also had stints with Italian clubs  Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Inter Milan in the 1990s.

However, like other ambitious teams from Eastern Europe, they have made little impact in the Champions League, their best effort being a place in the quarter-finals two seasons ago. It will be the first European game to be a staged at Juventus’ new stadium.

Instead of the vast, windswept and half-empty Stadio  delle Alpi, Juve’s old venue, Shakhtar will step out into the  tightly-packed Juventus Stadium which bears more resemblance to an English or German arena than the traditional Italian model. Juventus are the only Serie A club to own their stadium, which is expected to give them a huge financial advantage over other Italian clubs in the next few years.

Juventus are back in the Champions League after a two-year absence and should do better than their last home game when they were thrashed 4-1 by Bayern Munich at the Stadio Olimpico,  which was being used as a temporary venue.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and midfielder Claudio Marchisio are likely to be the only survivors from that match in their starting line-up. Juventus now have a wealth of attacking options, so much so that Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner, on loan from Arsenal, has played only one game this season. “We’ve got an excellent pool of strikers at our disposal and we’re happy with their performances,” goalkeeper coach Claudio Filippi, standing in for suspended coach Antonio Conte, told reporters. “The coach will rotate them based on what he sees during the week, everyone will have the opportunity to play.”

Probable teams:

Juventus: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 15-Andrea Barzagli, 19-Leonardo Bonucci, 3-Giorgio Chiellini; 26-Stephan Lichtsteiner, 23-Arturo Vidal, 21-Andrea Pirlo, 8-Claudio Marchisio, 22-Kwadwo Asamoah; 12-Sebastian Giovinco, 27-Fabio Quagliarella

Shakhtar Donetsk: 30-Andriy Pyatov; 33-Darijo Srna, 5-Olexandr Kucher, 44-Yaroslav Rakytskyi, 26-Razvan Rat; 7-Fernandinho, 6-Taras Stepanenko; 77-Ilsinho, 22-Henrik Mkhitaryan, 10-Willian; 9-Luiz Adriano

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