Ahead of tonight’s clash in Donetsk Roberto Di Matteo has said he is not considering the weekend’s match with Manchester United in his team selection. Chelsea have been excellent in recent matches but there are concerns over the amount of matches some players have had to take part in, especially those who were involved in the international break. However Di Matteo has dismissed the idea of resting players for the weekend saying:
"I won't think about Manchester United, only this game. We've got to focus on it, try to win the game and that's a big, big boost for our campaign in the Champions League."
The manager has also backed John Terry as Chelsea’s leader and said he has no concerns about picking the defender for the game against Shakhtar. Terry is expected to come in for Gary Cahill, who can consider himself a little unlucky after his performance against Spurs at the weekend, which included scoring the opening goal with a rocket of a volley.
Along with Terry, Frank Lampard could return to the starting line-up for Chelsea tonight, the England midfielder has started both of Chelsea’s previous group games.
Chelsea face a huge challenge in their trip to the Ukraine with no English side ever triumphing in the Donbass arena. Shakhtar were superb against Juventus in their last group match, and were unlucky to only draw 1-1 in Turin. The Ukrainian side are unbeaten in eleven months and have won 14 games out of 15 this season, the sole draw being at Juventus. Chelsea lead the group from Shakhtar on goal difference at the moment, but with Juventus likely to beat Nordsjaelland tonight, the game in Donetsk will be crucial to the group standings.
With the racism row still foremost in many minds as Terry returns to Chelsea’s starting line-up, one of Shakhtar’s Brazilian stars Fernandinho has spoken of how he would go “wild” if subjected to racist abuse when on the pitch. He also said how Shakhtar have a chance to show everyone how well they have progressed by beating the European champions, and that he, along with many of their Brazilian players, joined the club as a result of their ambition.
Another Brazilian at Shakhtar, Willian, has been repeatedly linked with a move to Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur has spoken of how he would be open of a move to either side. The forward has a close relationship with Andre Villas-Boas, who has reportedly tried to sign him for both Chelsea and Spurs. Shakhtar coach, Mircea Lucescu, believes Chelsea will pay for not signing Willian when the two sides meet, and said he hopes they will be interested in signing all of Shakhtar’s players after the match tonight.
Another Brazilian reportedly coveted by Chelsea is Paulinho, but he has distanced himself from a move saying it is just speculation. Paulinho will face Chelsea in the Club World Cup later this year with his club Corinthians.
image: © jbl767