It’s Shakhtar!

The Champions League draw has been held, and our quarter-final opponent is Shakhtar Donetsk. It had to be. We have never had an easy road to the Finals, and this year is no exception.

Here’s the full draw:

EE v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Manchester United
Barca v Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan v Schalke

The semi-final draw has also been held, precluding the possibility of a Champions League Final El Clasic, though we could meet EE in the semi-finals, as we play the winner of the Spurs/EE matchup, which I fully expect to be EE. In case anyone is wondering, we are home for the first leg, which I don’t like at all. I’d much rather be coming home, knowing what we have to do.

On the up side, however, it does give the weather a chance to get all nice and stuff down their way, and if we can put the smack down at home, roll nice and easy down there. And you know how I knew it was going to be Shakhtar? We seem to always face our most recent transfer away in the next round. So it would have been AC Milan, had they not screwed the pooch. Instead, we have a reunion with Txignasty, who will have much to prove.

Discuss and debate, and have fun!

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Miguel
    March 18, 2011

    that was quick!

    so we fly to the ukraine in between los clasicos. awesome.

    st. patrick have mercy on us.

    • footballfan
      March 18, 2011

      It’s before, not in between.

      • Miguel
        March 18, 2011

        that’s what i meant. i’m going to bed.

      • Miguel
        March 18, 2011

        green dye number three is getting to me. 😉 i expect nothing short of excellence from bfb. thanks!

      • providence
        March 18, 2011

        never underestimate the power of smallness, sharktar might look small but they can pull a surprise,and EE is in our way too… so when is Puyol and Abidal coming back

  2. Jnice
    March 18, 2011

    Very dangerous tie.

    We’re going to need to be extra clinical at home because the away game will be no joke. Shaktar’s defense isn’t the best, though, so we should have some chances.

  3. footballfan
    March 18, 2011

    I think having a first leg at home is an advantage, considering Pep’s awful away record. If Barcelona can win by a big margin at home – finger crossed for a manita – then they won’t need to worry too much about the second leg, and prepare for Classico.

    • blaunero
      March 18, 2011

      Lucescu has played us before and we’ve never beaten them by more than a goal. The Old Fox might get beaten but he’s too cunning to get thoroughly beaten.

      • footballfan
        March 18, 2011

        Well as Jnice said let’s hope the strikers are clinical. We usually hit the peak performace around that time though.

  4. Eklavya
    March 18, 2011

    Well, Shaktar is 2nd after Rubin Kazan on our European “Uh-Oh” list.

  5. blaunero
    March 18, 2011

    Could have been better but that’s how it goes. We’ll have to play the best two games of the season if we’re to reach the semis. At least the games aren’t taking place now, when we aren’t playing well.

  6. Roz
    March 18, 2011

    Looking forward to EE and Spurs. Should be cracking.

    • Ian
      March 18, 2011

      i knowww. i actually thought that was the best draw lol.

  7. March 18, 2011

    Hope we get the Tuesday fixture on the second leg. El Clasico will almost certainly be on Saturday (because the Copa del Rey final is midweek), and I do not want to fly from Ukrain to Barca on Thursday to play in the Bernabeu on Saturday.

    EE-Spurs should be interesting. As should the meat-grinder to the final between ManU-Chelsea-Inter.

  8. Lou
    March 18, 2011

    Chgy! It will be good to see him again. I still think he got a pretty raw deal last year.

    I’m not sure why people are worried about the extra travel distance to Ukraine. It would be like a ~2.5 hour flight instead of a ~1 hour flight. Not too bad. It’s certainly no 2 day bus trip to Milan.

  9. Jnice
    March 18, 2011

    As should the meat-grinder to the final between ManU-Chelsea-Inter.

    Haha, I love what you did there. Sorry Schalke fans, but we all know the deal.

    But how annoying is it that, Inter, who were on the brink of elimination, are now virtually into the semifinals. I don’t like them.

  10. Ian
    March 18, 2011

    I’m more comfortable with a 2nd leg home game, despite the away goals advantage, but that means we have to sack the game in the first leg because East European home sides are sure to be fierce in the next leg… ._.

  11. Jnice
    March 18, 2011

    Messi trained normally with the team today.

    Pedro and Maxwell are definitely out of the Getafe match and taking their place will be Fontas and Montoya.

      • Jnice
        March 18, 2011

        I suspect that smile also has to do with the fact that this means Messi will surely be playing against the US in about a week. 😛

        • soccermomof4
          March 18, 2011

          You betcha! 🙂 And the overiding concerns for his health and fitness come into play as well. What would irritate me is if in the next couple of games, be they NT or club games, he plays the full 90 of a done and dusted game. Secure the win (except for the US game where I’m rooting for him and sMasche to do well , BUT the US to win) get him outta there (tie him to the bench to keep him off the field if necessary and give him legos to occupy him)!

  12. Vj
    March 18, 2011

    If we were to face EE in the Semis, would we play the first leg home or at EE?

    • blaunero
      March 18, 2011

      If that were to happen, and it’s a big if, the first match’d be at the Bernabeu.

  13. soccermomof4
    March 18, 2011

    Oh Joy! Shakhtar! And the first game at home! And a lovely field trip to the Ukraine before the clasico, what fun! And RM gets Tottenham! Oh joy, what rapture, what heavenly bliss! *heavy sarcasm*

  14. y2k156
    March 18, 2011

    Arghh. I was hoping that we would not get Shakhtar. They are good and east european teams always give us loads of grief. I hope we are on top of our game in home leg. I would have preferred any other opponent to be honest.

    • soccermomof4
      March 18, 2011

      “I would have preferred any other opponent to be honest.”

      Ditto- this tie scares me! We are better than they are, but…

      I’ll feel a whole lot better if the captain is back by then.

  15. mega_tajh
    March 18, 2011

    I for one am happy with getting Shakhtar. Although they are the dark horse this time around and even won their group, they still have a relatively young squad ranging from 20-25.

    The game at the Nou Camp will be huge for them, in terms of the pressure and how they react to it but I think we would come out with flying colors home and away.

  16. blitzen
    March 18, 2011

    Ha! I woke up this morning convinced we would be getting Shakhtar, and I was right!

    Not going to complain about it, they are good opponents and we have a difficult couple of games ahead of us.

    Still wish we had gotten Tottenham, but we still have a chance to play them if they can beat RM.

    • soccermomof4
      March 18, 2011

      Dunno why Shakhtar scares me. Maybe I’m worried about bad Chyggy “karma” or something coming back to bite us. BTW, I hope he gets a good reception when he comes back to Camp Nou.

      • blitzen
        March 18, 2011

        There is no bad Chyggy karma. He has been nothing but class about the whole thing, and I expect he will be thrilled to see our team again.

        • soccermomof4
          March 18, 2011

          HE has been all class! But I didn’t like how we handled things with him. I really hope he gets a good ovation!

        • soccermomof4
          March 18, 2011

          “There is no bad Chyggy karma”

          Perhaps it would have been wiser for me to say I fear us getting our “comuppence (sp.?) for what was,IMO, not exemplary treatment of Chygrynskiy. Regardless, they are a tough draw, and it will take a lot to beat them, especially as depleted as we are. Abi and Puyol are a huge blow, but missing our chaos generator (if he’s still out) will be huge as well.

  17. blitzen
    March 18, 2011

    Not to get ahead of myself, but if the ties go the way I think they will, we would play ManU in the final.

  18. Jnice
    March 18, 2011

    via Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham)

    Puyol in ten days, perhaps” says Pep. He’s been improving.

    • blitzen
      March 18, 2011

      It is important not to rush him back, so he will be fit for the Clasico, Copa, CL games.

  19. xavi
    March 18, 2011

    So we play Shakhtar…
    Considering it is Villarreal
    away just before the 1st
    leg I would like to know
    you guys feelings towards
    playing the 2nd leg away.
    Willian will shut the right
    wing, read Alves, so
    Adriano & Villa will have
    to be huge against them
    but then it’s Srna down
    there, OMG it’s tricky. But
    I remember Arsenal
    having a feast of their mid
    field at Emirates… So
    there’s hope. And
    welcome home Dima
    Hoping we get into semis
    we have to pray for
    Spurs, an English side, to
    win to avoid Madrid i.e.,
    another classico… Oh the
    irony!! Also Bale will try
    and do every thing to win
    over the Spanish, it just
    got interesting!!
    If God willing we do reach
    finals, is it like a touch of
    destiny for us to be the
    home team at Wembly,
    considering we won our
    first CL there!?
    Really not getting words
    right now! But at least one of my ohsomany wishes has been
    granted… If we were to
    face Shakhtar I wanted it
    to happen over two legs,
    facing their bus in a final
    would be disastrous!!

  20. barcarolle
    March 18, 2011

    “Puyol in ten days, perhaps” says Pep. He’^s been improving. Animo Puyi

    From Graham Hunter’s twitter.

  21. blitzen
    March 18, 2011

    From sidlowe’s twitter:

    “which, by the way, means less rest for Barcelona between games. Wonder what Jose thinks?”

    Tee hee. 😛

    • March 18, 2011

      I’m not happy about it, but such is modern football. You gotta deal with fatigue if you want to compete on so many fronts.

  22. March 18, 2011

    Shakhtar is going to be a major challenge. Given Barca’s injuries and their Liga schedule coming up, Shakhtar were amongst the last teams I wanted Barca to face in this draw.

    The home leg is going to be critical. Lucescu of course will know this. Shakhtar don’t have to win at Camp Nou. All they need to do is to play to a low scoring game and try to sneak an away goal.

    It may prove difficult to break down Shakhtar in the match at Camp Nou.

    Outside of the geographic factors, they are a talented team that is very drilled.

    Barcelona’s defensive on the left flank is an area I’m concerned about.

    Shakhtar on the right has Douglas Costa and Darijo Srna. Srna in one of the world’s best right backs and one of the more under rated players in Europe.

    It’s difficult to know what Abidal’s status will be. He just needs to take care of his health.

    So defensively it will be Adriano and Villa on the left flank. That will be a major defensive challenge for Adriano. And to me Villa looks like he may be getting fatigued and his pressing is being affected.

    Finally, the uncertainty at CB impacts the Left flank defense as well. With Abidal at CB he could split wide and play on the left with the holding player dropping back.

    Given Puyol’s uncertainty, it’s difficult to know who they are going to be able to defend behind Villa and Adriano.

    • barca96
      March 18, 2011

      sMasch is crucial to us from now on.
      As for Puyol, I would not even play him this weekend so that will exclude him out from the Spain NT.

      • Jnice
        March 18, 2011

        Puyol isn’t ready for this weekend. And he wasn’t called up to the national team.

    • blitzen
      March 18, 2011

      There is absolutely no way Abidal will be back for the CL games against Shakhtar, even in an absolutely best case scenario. Abdominal surgery is no joke and needs 4 weeks of recovery at an absolute minimum. Get any thoughts of Abidal in these games out of your head.

      I fully expect Puyol to be recovered, though.

      I think these are the sort of games Keita would do well in.

      • blaunero
        March 18, 2011

        AS reported this morning, Canadian pacific time, of a conversation between Butrageno and Zubizarreta wherein the latter said Abidal would be ready for August. Meaning he’ll miss the rest of the season.
        Whatever though. As long as he’s healthy and happy and his kids can enjoy his presence till ripe old age, then it doesn’t matter when or if Abidal returns. There are more important things than footy, I think.

      • March 19, 2011

        If we take care of business in the home leg, i can see Pyuol sliding over to RB At Shakhtar






        I know, I know, I hate Andres up top as much as anyone, but I could see it.

        If we need goals in the second leg, I pull out all the stops and play 3 in the back!!!!








        Or we could sacrament Alves for Afellay (instant offense)

    • March 18, 2011

      Euler lays out exactly why I didn’t want to see Shakhtar — their strengths play to our weaknesses. I’d be a lot more comfortable knowing that our French Greyhound was going to be in the house, but no way that happens.

      Let’s hope that reps improve Adriano.

      As Jnice notes, finishing is going to be crucial. And frankly I wouldn’t mind seeing some 3M and sMasch. Their skill sets can be valuable.

      Worst is the travel effect.

      • March 18, 2011

        You summed it up well. Their strengths happen to line up where Barca are more vulnerable.

        Barca depends on the full backs to provide width so Messi can occupy a free role and so the top three can position switch.

        But Shakhtar have two very good wingers in Costa and Wllian both of whom have pace.

        Things like that in the alignments really aren’t great matchups.

        And on top of that there’s the travel and playing in that fortress.

        It’s a very difficult CL matchup as you go in and you have to assume that realistically the best you can do is draw in the away leg.

      • Eklavya
        March 18, 2011

        their strengths play to our weaknesses.

        I think Tottenham can exploit our weaknesses better than Shaktar thanks to Lennon and Bale.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          March 18, 2011

          well, also, EE’s fullbacks is not the best defensively…
          we saw that in El Clasico…

          hope Lennon and Bale can hurt them…

        • March 19, 2011

          Also he fact that Crouch literally wins 85% of long ball headers will not help us if we meet them. The reason they Wilian and Costa are killer to us, and may be our Kryptonite,it’s their speed will hurt us on the counter, clearly where we are most vulnerable. But really, it’s simple. If we press the ball like we did v Arsenal, no team will beat us, period.

  23. March 18, 2011

    Good news:

    We play on Wednesday the first week (along with ManU and Chelsea) and play on Tuesday for the second leg. That means we’ll have an extra day’s rest from Donetsk, while RM will play Spurs on Wednesday.

    • March 18, 2011

      Also, that should answer the question of which match will be aired on the main channel… ManU vs. Chelsea will definitely get be aired instead of the Barca game.

      • barca96
        March 18, 2011

        Haha thank God CL games are shown on two channels here;
        ESPN & Star Sports. If I was still in Australia, I would’ve definitely missed the game on tv. Or Im not too sure about that. It’s a US ESPN, do they favor EPL or Barca?

        Mourinho might demand for our schedule to change. Haha

        • March 18, 2011

          Well, back when ESPN used to carry the Champions League, I wouldn’t be surprised if at the quarterfinals stage they would air Manchester United vs. CSKA Moscow on the main channel and relegate a match like Barcelona vs. AC Milan to their secondary channels (like Deportes).

          • mega_tajh
            March 18, 2011

            Here in the US, I usually get both games live showing on FSC and FSC plus.Also MSG+ also shows a live Champions League match now and then.

  24. Lev
    March 18, 2011

    Damn, why does EE get the easy draw, again!

    I expect them to absolutely murder Tottenham 🙁

    Shaktar is very tough, most of you guys have already pointed out the exact reasons why.

    If Internazionale takes care of business there will be no freebies in the semis.

    • DontPanic
      March 18, 2011

      I actually like Real drew Tottenham. Mind you I don’t expect Spurs to advance, but I do think they will give their best against RM. They will actually ATTACK them. When was the last time somebody went for the jugular against them? I remember only a certain game in November.
      Tottenham is a very motivated team. Nobody expects them to win so there will be no pressure on them. Also they are highly motivated.
      I hope they make them sweat, loose their cool, earn a yellow card or two and to tire them as much as possible.
      After that its our turn.

      • Lev
        March 18, 2011

        Well if the Spurs are gonna go for Madrid’s jugular, EE is gonna crush theirs 🙁

  25. Lev
    March 18, 2011

    Also, Guardian reports that if we go through we will face either Tottenham or Madrid…

  26. MoSSi
    March 18, 2011

    I think I read a while back that the coach of Argentina wont call up Messi and Tevez etc for the upcoming friendlies..

    • Jnice
      March 18, 2011

      True regarding Tevez, but Messi will be called up.

  27. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 18, 2011

    some people says Barça get an “easy” draw…
    completely disagree…

    when Pep was asked which team he doesnt want to meet?
    he said Shakhtar Donetsk…
    and what you said is what you get…yikes!

    there’s so much buzz about El Clasico in semifinal…
    are they forget there’s two legs quarter final to play?
    and who knows Hotspur will be the Dark Horse of the season,
    which I hope so…

  28. blitzen
    March 18, 2011


    Zubizarreta (to Butragueno): “Abidal’s operation went well. The doctors think he could be back in August.”


  29. soccermomof4
    March 18, 2011

    Anyone hear when P!! is due back?

  30. OSBAG
    March 18, 2011

    we can only hope our squad can cope with fatigue and injury absentEes. Out greatest problem till puyol comes bck would be whom to pair with pique in the big matches : the inexperienced fontas. The uncertain milito or busquets. I hope eiter him and smache but stay healthy and stay away from suspensions. There is also the matter of both being just ayellow Card away from suspension in the league

  31. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 18, 2011

    goodbye Abidal… 🙁

    Puyol, please… save us…

  32. Eklavya
    March 18, 2011

    Let’s see if Willam (Willan?) still gives us trouble, like he did ~2 years ago.

  33. March 18, 2011

    Not sure why everybody here expect Tottenham to get murdered by Madrid. I actually think they have a very good chance of progressing as long as they play well. Madrid can definitely be got at and with players like Bale, Modric and VDV, Tott have the tools to beat Madrid. They play a very high tempo game, they like to press the opposition and they are lethal on the counter. I think it will be a much closer tie than people expect. I would probably still bet on Madrid over the two legs, but Tott definitely have a chance.

    As for Shaktar, they are not the easiest draw, but there are no easy teams left. Of all the teams I would only prefer Shalke to Shaktar, the rest can all be very, very dangerous on their day. All the other teams have at least one or two players who can single handedly turn the tide of a game, Shaktar not so much. Yes they are a well oranised, physical team who have some decent players but I am quite confident we will beat them over two legs and if we cant, well we dont really deserve to win the CL.

    • Camero
      March 18, 2011

      I agree this will be one hell of an attacking matchup. I would just love to see Mourinho humbled in front of the english fans with his billion euro team leaving no excuses.

  34. March 20, 2011

    Hi, I`m from Donetsk. I`m a fan of Shakhtar, but also love the style Barca is playing!!!! It`ll be a magnificent match, I think!!! I`ve been on Donbass Arena, it`s something great!!! The flood of energy, even when the stadium is not full. It`ll be very difficult for you to win on Donbass Arena. And I think – the same on Camp Nou.

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