Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic: Ange Postecoglou calls for resilience from Scottish champions

Ange Postecoglou
Ange Postecoglou believes his Celtic team could have pushed Real Madrid for longer last week
Venue: Stadion Wojska Polskiego, Warsaw Date: Wednesday, 14 September Kick-off: 17:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Ange Postecoglou is looking for more resilience from his Celtic team as they attempt to kick start their Champions League group campaign against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw on Wednesday.

The Scottish champions gave holders Real Madrid a scare in an impressive first half in Glasgow last week before succumbing to a 3-0 defeat.

And Postecoglou says he believes Celtic could have pushed Real even more after conceding the first goal on 56 minutes.

“I was a bit frustrated,” he said.

“In the context of who we were playing against, I understand that you are playing against one of the best teams in the world at the moment, maybe the best. And for us to be able to match them by playing our football was encouraging.

“Looking back, the disappointing thing was, when we conceded, we conceded again quickly. There was no need to. If we had hung in the game, there’s always the chance to create again.

“At this level, 60 minutes is never going to be enough. You have to make sure you see the game out and be resilient when you need to be.”

Celtic have had a week to prepare for Wednesday’s game against the Ukrainians in Poland after all Scottish Premiership fixtures were cancelled over the weekend as a mark of respect following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Uefa statement had been reportedexternal-link on Tuesday that a moment of silence will be observed and black arm bands worn by British teams away from home this match day.

When asked about a mark of respect on Wednesday, Postecoglou said: “I have been very fortunate in that, in my role, I have travelled the world and one thing I have learned is to respect everyone’s culture.

“I have learned to respect people’s culture and abide by whatever obligations I have personally and whatever the club has – and that’s what we will be doing tomorrow.”

Emotional night beckons for Shakhtar

Igor Jovicevic
Igor Jovicevic said Celtic are favourites to win in Warsaw on Wednesday

Shakhtar Donetsk head coach Igor Jovicevic said his team will perform “for the people out there” as they take to the Stadion Wojska Polskiego on Wednesday.

The Ukrainians are playing all of their group home matches in Warsaw due to the Russian invasion in their homeland, but a full house is expected at the 30,000 seater in Poland.

“We need the spectators to share their energy and drive with us so we can fight during this game from the very first to the very last minute,” the 48-year-old said while suggesting Celtic are favourites to win despite Shakhtar’s 4-1 win away to RB Leipzig last week.

“We are going to be playing for our fans, all those people who are out there. Indeed, all those people coming to the stadium have their own personal difficulties, but we are playing for them and with them.”

Speaking about their victory in Germany last week, Jovicevic, who took over as Shakhtar boss in July, said: “This game showed what we are capable of.”

He thinks facing Celtic will be “a high adrenaline type of match” played with “a sense of sports fear and added: “Without fear, there is no courage, no drive forward. We will face a very tough match.”

Team news

Celtic centre-half Carl Starfelt is still absent after going off injured in the 4-0 victory over Rangers earlier this month, while midfielder James McCarthy misses out through illness.

Defender Viktor Korniyenko, who misses his fourth game in a row, is Shakhtar’s only injury absentee.

Commentator’s notes

BBC Scotland’s Alasdair Lamont in Warsaw

Where to begin with the Shakhtar Donetsk story? Few clubs in world football can claim to have had a more tumultuous time in recent years.

Uprooted from their home in 2014 in the early rumblings of what has recently become an all-out Russian invasion, these seasoned Champions League campaigners have become used to a transient lifestyle.

Now, with Ukrainian domestic football having returned, last season’s league leaders when hostilities brought an early halt to proceedings play their first “home” game in Europe, in neighbouring Poland.

This is a very different Shakhtar side to the one that finished top of the table, with the vast majority of their foreign contingent having understandably taken advantage of a Fifa ruling that allowed them to seek moves elsewhere.

The loss of so many stars, like the Brazilian duo Tete and Fernando and Israel’s Manor Solomon – some on loan, some permanently – made last week’s 4-1 win over Leipzig all the more astounding.

New heroes like Mykhaylo Mudryk and fellow winger Marian Shved, formerly of Celtic, have stepped up to the plate and, along with club stalwarts like captain Taras Stepanenko, are ready to write a new page in the club’s history books.

Match stats

  • This is the sides’ fifth meeting, the previous four also coming in the Champions League group stage and all resulting in a home victory.
  • Celtic are in the Champions League group stage for the 11th time, their most recent campaign coming in 2017-18.
  • Shakhtar Donetsk are in the group stage for the 17th time and this is their sixth in a row. They have featured in 14 of the last 16 Champions League group stages.
  • A 3-0 win away to Anderlecht on Matchday 2 in 2017-18 is one of only two Celtic victories in their last 21 games in the Champions League, group stage and beyond, losing16 times.
  • That victory over Anderlecht is also Celtic’s only victory in their last 12 away games in the Champions League proper, losing nine.
  • Shakhtar have managed only five wins in their last 19 home European matches, losing six and drawing eight.
  • Celtic lost five of their seven European away games last season, winning the other two. They conceded 17 goals in those matches, at least two in each game, and they scored 14.

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