Oleh Shelayev: "The impression is that Shakhtar went into the Antwerp game with the idea of not losing".

2023-11-29 11:07 Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Oleh Shelayev shared his impressions of his former team's match against Belgian ... Oleh Shelayev: "The impression is that Shakhtar went into the Antwerp game with the idea of not losing".
29.11.2023, 11:07

Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Oleh Shelayev shared his impressions of his former team's match against Belgian Antwerp (1-0) in the 5th round of the Champions League group stage, which took place yesterday in Hamburg.

Oleg Shelaev

- This match was strikingly different from Shakhtar's first meeting with Antwerp, which ended 3-2 in favour of the Pitmen, which was not only efficient, but also bright in terms of both teams' play, - said Shelayev. - Back then, each team played different halves - one better, the other worse.

As for the Champions League fifth round encounter, Shakhtar played very neatly. Antwerp did the same. The Belgians went into this game clearly knowing the strength of the Ukrainian team and having certain impressions of the football that the Pitmen demonstrated against Barcelona.

- Did Shakhtar bet on the result?

- It seems that the Pitmen took to the pitch with the idea of not losing and, if possible, realising their chance in attack. Everything went well for Shakhtar. A quick goal was very important - as early as in the 12th minute.

The game went on with varying success. Both the visitors and the home side could score before the break, and in the second half Antwerp made a successful substitution when Ejuke came on. He added spice and dynamics to the Belgian attacks on the left flank.

But what happened in the end? "Antwerp actually managed to create only one real goal - when Alderweireld shot at goal from close range, but lost the duel to Riznyk. It was not enough to expect anything serious...

"Shakhtar, for their part, acted compactly, competently and carefully. Yes, the Orange-Blacks played according to the scoreline, tried to poke Antwerp, while not often controlling the ball. "Shakhtar, without looking back at the name of the opponent, adjusted to it. All the players of our team tried not to get behind the ball, and they succeeded. Shakhtar's attacking players also worked hard in defence. The Pitmen's very concentrated defensive play did not allow Antwerp to create anything significant, despite a significant number of flank passes.

- Who can you recognise in Shakhtar's squad?

- The whole team was as one. None of the Pitmen conceded in one-on-one battles. Matviyenko, in addition to quality work in defence, also scored, which is super. Sikan won a lot of battles in the other team's half of the pitch and always returned to his own goal in time. A huge amount of work was done by Zubkov. I would also note that Shakhtar managed long-range shots, two of which shook the crossbar.

- Is everything we saw in the Champions League fifth round match against Antwerp a style of play from Marino Pusic?

- We are very often in a hurry to give a mark of quality to the work of this or that coach. As soon as Shakhtar outplayed Barcelona, everyone immediately started saying: Pusic has changed the team's football, this is his style.... However, it is too early to say that. Therefore, Marino Pusic should be given time - 7-8 games to clearly understand his plan, to feel his hand. Yes, the coach, of course, adds something to Shakhtar's game, he certainly has his own principles. But... As far as I'm concerned, I don't see something bright, something special yet.

- How can you assess Shakhtar's standings in the Champions League group at the moment, and is there a chance to finish second?

- Shakhtar's qualification for the Europa League is a fulfilled plan. And anything further is above the norm. In football, as you know, anything can happen... Of course, the match of the 6th round between Porto and Shakhtar will be of a very specific nature. "Shakhtar may pull out a lucky ticket. Certainly, it will be tough.

After the match with Antwerp, the Pitmen need to go to Ukraine and put their affairs in order in the UPL. The main thing is that Shakhtar will go to Porto with an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League play-offs, because it is important to have a chance, even a minimal one. Therefore, the match with Porto will be the crowning moment of the year for Shakhtar.

Oleg Semenchenko

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