Chelsea looks to masterful Mata against Shakhtar
Snubbed by Spain for recent internationals, Juan Mata has
reacted by producing arguably the best form of his career for
Chelasea, and Shakhtar Donetsk is up next for the playmaker in the
Champions League on Tuesday.
Mata has scored six goals and made a string of assists in his
last five games for Chelsea, showing he is fully refreshed after
being rested at the start of the season following appearances at
the European Championship and Olympics.
He’s still being overlooked by world champion Spain but Shakhtar
will know Mata is the danger man in the Group E match at the
”I just try to improve with every Chelsea game I play,” Mata
said after scoring twice in Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Tottenham on
Saturday, maintaining his team’s four-point lead in the Premier
League. ”I just want to do my best for my team and, at this
moment, I am feeling really well.”
Both teams have four points – two ahead of Juventus, which will
be expecting consecutive wins from its upcoming matches against
Danish club FC Nordsjaelland.
Juve beat Napoli 2-0 in a top-of-the-table match in the Italian
league on Saturday, leaving the reigning champions unbeaten this
season – just like Chelsea.
”This sends a message that we’re (in form),” assistant coach
Angelo Alessio said. ”The numbers speak clearly. Seven victories
and a draw in eight (Serie A) matches, the best attack and the best
defense, solid play and organization.”
Juventus’ 2-2 draw with Chelsea on matchday one should leave the
group well poised through to the final round of games, with little
to split the top three.
Chelsea has started the season better than many would have
expected, quickly finding its stride as the European champions look
to add more creativity to their renowned strength in defense.
Attacking midfielders Eden Hazard and Oscar have settled quickly
after big-money moves in the summer and their link-up play with
Mata has been a joy to watch.
”We are playing more with the ball (this season) and I think
it’s more enjoyable for me and the team,” Mata said. ”If you can
win and also play really well, it is the perfect way.”
Shakhtar, which is 12 points clear at the top of the Ukraine
league, drew 1-1 away to Juventus in their last Champions League
match having opened with a 2-0 win over Nordsjaelland.
”It’s a higher level of play, especially since we’re meeting
Chelsea,” Shakhtar midfielder Willian said. ”We have to be
focused because if we play well, it’ll be a huge step for us and it
will allow us to advance in the tournament.”
Chelsea is expected to recall captain John Terry to its defense
after the center back was suspended for the victory at Tottenham
while he serves a four-match domestic ban for racially abusing an
opponent in a Premier League game. Neither Chelsea nor Shakhtar
have any new injury problems.
There are doubts over the fitness of Juventus goalkeeper
Gianluigi Buffon, who sat out both Italy’s win over Denmark last
week and the victory over Napoli.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte is suspended until December for a
match-fixing scandal stemming from when he coached Siena two