Shakhtar looks to surprise Barcelona in CL
Shakhtar Donetsk will look to spring a surprise on Spanish champion Barcelona when the teams meet Wednesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.
The Ukrainian club has reached the last eight for the first time but its hopes of progressing are slim against the tournament favorite, which is coming off a 1-0 win over Villarreal to increase its lead over Real Madrid and extend its unbeaten league run to 28 games.
''We will try to play well, win and get a good result that will allow us to not suffer as much in the away leg,'' Barcelona striker David Villa said.
Shakhtar has won five straight European matches, including both games in a 6-2 aggregate win over Roma in the previous round, and is dominating the Ukrainian league with a 12-point lead over its nearest rival.
Shakhtar is hoping to return for the April 12 return leg at Donbass Arena with a chance since the club is unbeaten on home soil in two years.
''It's a great success. Now we're faced with the next task: progress even further against the best team in the world,'' Shakhtar captain Dario Srna said. ''We have to do our best to get a good result in Barcelona.''
While Barcelona continues to collect victories, the wear and tear of the season has led to a drop off in its offensive production and some injuries that can give the visitors some hope.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi hasn't scored since Barcelona eliminated Arsenal in the last round - a stretch of three games - and Villa hasn't scored in six games.
''The (goals) will come eventually and if I don't score a teammate does,'' Villa said. ''(But) whenever you don't score you are a little worried.''
Three-time champion Barcelona is without captain Carles Puyol (knee) and France defender Eric Abidal, who is recovering from liver tumor surgery. Forward Pedro Rodriguez and fullback Maxwell are also just returning from injury.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is likely to pair defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets with Gerard Pique in the center of the defense to contain Shakhtar's attacking pair of Luiz Adriano and Eduardo, who have scored four goals apiece in the competition.
Eduardo (ankle) is expected to be available while Brazilian playmaker Fernandinho returned from a broken leg in the 3-1 win at Illichivets on Friday.
''They have very fast players, small and explosive. Our Brazilians are essentially the same kind of players,'' Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said. ''However, in terms of interaction on the pitch our opponents have the advantage, as they have been playing together for longer.''
Shakhtar defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy will also be motivated on his return to the Camp Nou after being sold back to Shakhtar last year after a disappointing season following a ?25 million (then $35.8 million) transfer. The 24-year-old Chygrynskiy arrived at Barcelona as a possible long-term replacement for Puyol, but the Ukraine center back never adjusted and made only 12 appearances.
The pair most recently met in the 2009 European Supercup final when Pedro's extra time goal lifted Barcelona to a 1-0 victory.
But the 2009 UEFA Cup champions have tasted victory at the Camp Nou before. Shakhtar won 3-2 that same season in a Champions League group match that was essentially meaningless to eventual champion Barcelona, which had already secured the top spot.