Borussia Dortmund vs Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League Last 16)


With Borussia Dortmund’s late equaliser in the Ukraine securing a 2-2 draw, the German champions will want to complete victory at home in front of their fanatical supporters.

Dortmund’s goalscorer Mats Hummels faces a fight to be fit, so Felipe Santana once again finds himself on standby to partner Neven Subotic at centre back. Ilkay Gundogan should return having missed the first leg through injury, with Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl in contention to partner him in midfield. Jurgen Klopp has tweaked his system recently, playing two in attack against Hannover at the weekend and a three man midfield against Bayern Munich in the German Cup, but Dortmund are likely to return to their familiar 4-2-3-1 shape.

For Shakhtar Donetsk, Mircea Lucescu welcomes back Olexandr Kucher from suspension to play alongside Yaroslav Rakitskiy at centre back. Douglas Costa’s goal in the first leg may also see him fill the left wing role in place of Taison.

Dortmund will expect to progress considering their away goal advantage, but Shakhtar remain dangerous opponents.

With the main tactical points covered in the first leg preview, this analysis will cover points relevant to the second leg.

Possible line-ups.

Possible line-ups.

Mats Hummels

Hummels’ error for Shakhtar’s second goal in the first leg defied his importance to Klopp’s side. Dortmund’s captain has missed recent games with an injury, and without him the side looked far less secure in defence. Dortmund’s Chairman even blamed Hummel’s absence for the sides recent 1-0 German Cup defeat to Bayern. Therefore his return would be a massive boost to the team.

Dortmund will expect to come under a hugely varied attack. Shakthar will generally attack with quick, intricate passing through the centre of the pitch, but are just as capable down the flanks with Razvan Rat and Darijo Srna overlapping from full back, or playing long balls over the top of the defence. Hummels has become one of Europe’s finest defenders and will be needed for his defensive ability as well as his organising qualities.

Attacking full backs

Both teams have extremely ambitious full backs capable of offering genuine attacking width. However with both sides so adept at counter attacking, Klopp and Lucescu will need to ensure that they attack from a secure base.

For Dortmund, expect Gundogan and Bender (or Kehl) to sit deep to prevent Shakhtar breaking quickly. The home side lead through away goals, so although they will want to continue putting pressure on Shakhtar they do not need to be reckless. Conversely the visitors need to score and probably win, so while both Thomas Hubschman and Fernandinho can perform a similar holding role as Dortmund’s midfield pair, the latter may be given more freedom to venture forward.

Whereas usually a side’s ambition can be judged by the ambition of their full backs, in the case of these sides it is more likely to be the discipline of their central midfielders that determine their position in the match.


As already mentioned, Fernandinho will have a role to play in allowing Rat and Srna to advance, but his positioning will also have a major influence on the success of Shakhtar’s forwards. In the first leg Taison, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Teixeira were relatively quiet, largely subdued by the presence of Bender and Kehl in front of Dortmund’s back four. There is a chance that the second leg will be a similar story, especially given the home side’s lack of urgency.

Fernandinho can change that. The Brazilian offers a dynamic presence in Shakhtar’s midfield, shuttling from a deep position alongside Hubschman into attacking positions. Should Dortmund’s midfield successfully stifle Shakhtar’s forwards once more, Fernandinho’s attacking runs will be needed to exploit holes in the home side’s defence. This will come at the risk of less defensive cover, but it may be a risk Lucescu needs to take.


Dortmund’s late equaliser has given them a large advantage. Shakhtar have a good away record in Europe this season, dominating possession at both Chelsea and Juventus. However they are playing a team that is as comfortable in possession as they are attacking from quick transitions, so it will take a strong defensive display from the visitors to put pressure on Dortmund whilst minimising their scoring chances.

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