EUROPE: Champions League
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Stade Louis II (Monaco)
Monaco’s disappointing start to the Ligue 1 (L1) campaign (D1, L1) could be made up for here if they can get off to a winning start in their quest to return to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage for the first time since 2018/19. A first competitive meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk since 1979/80 stands in their way, but in their favour is an impressive record of winning three of their previous four UCL playoff fixtures.
It’s been sixty years since the ‘Monégasques’ made their first foray on the continental stage and during that time, they’ve faced Ukrainian sides on just four occasions (W2, D1, L1). Both home games ended ‘to nil’, but a repeat of such a result would be going against recent history, as Monaco haven’t secured a home win ‘to nil’ in Europe since 2016/17.
Visitors Shakhtar famously beat Real Madrid home and away in the 2020/21 UCL group stage, and after powering past Genk 4-2 on aggregate in the last qualification round, they’ll have belief that they can end a four-game winless run vs French opposition here at the Stade Louis II (D2, L2).
A victory here would be an impressive scalp for new Shakhtar boss Roberto De Zerbi who needs to impress early as his predecessor recorded an impressive 60.71% win-rate at the ‘Miners’. So far, he’s guided the Ukrainians to five wins from six (L1) and an average of two goals scored per match – curiously, that’s the exact same average as former manager Luís Castro.
Players to watch: Gelson Martins has started the season well, scoring the opener in Monaco’s first two home matches. Lassina Traoré has had a similarly good start, netting the opener in 50% of Shakhtar’s 2021/22 fixtures so far.
Monaco’ form in last 5 matches: LWDWL.
Shakhtar Donetsk’s form in last 5 matches: WWLWW.