Napoli head east for Shakhtar opener
FC Shakhtar Donetsk and SSC Napoli have never met but both have plenty of UEFA Champions League pedigree as they kick off Group F.
• Shakhtar have had 11 previous seasons in the UEFA Champions League group stage while this is Napoli’s fourth group campaign.
• This is Shakhtar’s seventh group stage campaign in eight seasons and their 12th overall – all since 2000. They have progressed to the last 16 on three occasions: 2010/11 (when they reached the quarter-finals), 2012/13 and 2014/15.
• In 2016/17, the Ukrainian club lost to BSC Young Boys in the third qualifying round (2-0 home, 0-2 away, 2-4 on penalties). They eventually got to the UEFA Europa League round of 32, losing to RC Celta de Vigo (1-0 away, 0-2 home aet).
• That Celta defeat ended Shakhtar’s five-game winning run, and a nine-match unbeaten streak, at home in Europe.
• The Donetsk team – who will play their UEFA Champions League home games in Kharkiv this season, due to the political situation in Ukraine – have won only three of their last 11 home fixtures in the competition, group stage to final.
• Márcio Azevedo, Taison and Marlos all called the OSK Metalist Stadium home before joining Shakhtar from FC Metalist Kharkiv.
• Shakhtar’s last home game against Italian opposition was a 1-0 matchday six defeat by Juventus on 5 December 2012.
• Their home record against Serie A clubs is W3 D0 L3; overall it is W4 D2 L12.
• Twelve months ago Napoli were also in Ukraine, visiting FC Dynamo Kyiv on matchday one. Arkadiusz Milik scored both goals in a 2-1 victory in a game played on 13 September 2016 – exactly a year before this fixture.
• That was Napoli’s first win in Ukraine, after a 3-1 loss to FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League group stage and a 1-0 defeat away to the same opponents in the semi-final of the same competition two years later.
• Napoli drew 0-0 at home to Dynamo in last season’s group stage. Their overall record against Ukrainian clubs is W2 D2 L2.
• Napoli have lost just twice in nine European away games since the start of 2015/16 (W6 D1).
Coach and player links
• Marko Rog linked up with Shakhtar’s Darijo Srna in the Croatia squad at UEFA EURO 2016.
• Vlad Chiricheş was in the Romania team beaten 4-3 by Ukraine in a friendly on 29 May 2016. Andriy Pyatov, Bohdan Butko, Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Taras Stepanenko all featured for the winning side.
• Marek Hamšík set up the only goal when Slovakia won 1-0 in Ukraine on 8 September 2014 in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying. Pyatov, Rakitskiy and Stepanenko appeared for the hosts.
• Piotr Zieliński was in the Poland team beaten 1-0 by Ukraine at the OSK Metalist Stadion in Kharkiv on 11 October 2013. Pyatov, Rakitskiy and Stepanenko played for the opposition.
• Former Shakhtar forward Yevhen Seleznyov scored both Dnipro goals against Napoli in that 2014/15 UEFA Europa League semi-final, a 2-1 aggregate loss for the Neapolitans.
• Zieliński and Milik helped Poland overcome Ukraine 1-0 in the group stage of UEFA EURO 2016. Pyatov, Butko, Stepanenko and Viktor Kovalenko all featured for Ukraine.
• Rog was a late substitute when Croatia edged Ukraine 1-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifying on 24 March 2017. Pyatov, Butko, Stepanenko, Ivan Ordets and Kovalenko were involved for Ukraine.
• Played together:
Alan Patrick & Rafael Cabral (Santos FC, 2010–11)
• Facundo Ferreyra scored twice as Shakhtar defeated Dynamo 2-0 in the Ukrainian Super Cup on 15 July.
• The Pitmen have won six of their seven league matches this term, losing the other to Dynamo.*
• Napoli have started the season with four consecutive victories in all competitions.*
• The Partenopei are on a 16-game unbeaten run (W14 D2). Their last defeat was the 3-1 home loss to Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on 7 March.*
• Milik scored in the 3-1 win at Hellas Verona FC on the opening weekend of the Serie A campaign – his first league start since suffering a knee injury last October – and again in Poland’s 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan in the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup.
• Faouzi Ghoulam was also on target against Verona. It was his first goal for Napoli on what was his 138th appearance for the club.
• Dries Mertens struck in Belgium’s 9-0 victory over Gibraltar on 31 August and played the entirety of the 2-1 triumph in Greece three days later, the latter result confirming the Red Devils’ qualification for next summer’s World Cup.
• Nikola Maksimović was sent off in Serbia’s 1-0 success against the Republic of Ireland on 5 September.
• Luigi Sepe extended his contract until 2022 on 31 August.
*Subject to weekend updates