Our prediction for this Champions League match:
There will be fireworks when Shakhtar Donetsk and Monaco square off agaisnt each other at OSC Metalist in the Champions League playoffs, return leg. The Miners proved their worth in the 1-0 win at Stade Louis II, and, no doubt, they are brimming with confidence ahead of the return leg. However, home win should not be considered as the game will be played on a neutral location. Italian tactician Roberto De Zerbi is unlikely to make changes to the starting XI that defeated Monaco in the first leg.
Les Rouges et Blancs, on the other hand, need to adopt an attack-minded approach in the return leg if they are to make it to the Champions League group stages. Considering that Monaco failed to turn their dominance into goals in the 1-0 defeat to Shakhtar, away win should be considered this time out. Niko Kovac should have a full squad to choose from for the decider.
Highlighted Player (Yevgen Konoplyanka):
Arguably the most talented footballer to have worn the Ukraine jersey since Yevgen Shevchenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka is a creative midfielder who can play on either wing as well as through the middle. The talented footballer started attracting interest from abroad soon after coming through the youth ranks at Dnipro, but he resisted temptation to join a top European club and waited for his contract to expire before signing a four-year deal with Europa League holders Sevilla.
As expected, Konplyanka quickly proved his worth at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, scoring important goals in La Liga and Europe during his debut season. Together with Andriy Yarmolenko, he has formed one of the best wing partnerships in international football, scoring 11 goals in his first 50 appearances for the national team.
After starting all three games at the Euro 2012 on home soil, Konoplyanka helped Zbirna qualify for the Euro 2016 finals, netting two times in eleven qualifiers as Ukraine defeated Slovenia in the play-offs.
Highlighted Team (Monaco):
Though based in Monaco, Les Rouges et Blances – as they are commonly referred to – play their games in the French football league system. Members of the top tier Ligue 1, Monaco play their home matches at the Stade Louis II in Fontvieille in front of 18,500 people. The Principality club boasts a turbulent history, which saw Monaco reach the highest heights of both domestic and international scene, but also get relegated to the amateur leagues at the very beginnings and to Ligue 2 in 2010-11 season.
The following year AS Monaco were acquired by the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, whose heavy investments turned the Principality club into one of the biggest spenders in Europe in 2013 and reestablishing its place among Europe’s top clubs.
AS Monaco have had notable European results in the modern football era having been runners-up in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1992 and the UEFA Champions League in 2004. One of the most successful clubs in France AS Monaco have so far won seven league titles and five Coupe de France trophies.