Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Sports Mole looks ahead to Athletic Bilbao's opening Champions League group-stage encounter against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Champions League group football will be played at the new San Mames stadium for the first time on Wednesday evening when Athletic Bilbao host Shakhtar Donetsk.

On paper at least. it appears to be a daunting trip for the Ukrainian side because Bilbao have lost just one of their last 15 home European encounters, eight of which have been won.

However, the away side can take solace from the fact that they have won six of their last seven opening group fixtures in European competition.

In terms of team selection, Athletic head coach Ernesto Valverde has no major injury concerns. Mikel San Jose and Ibai Gomez were both on the bench for the weekend's trip to Barcelona, but they could return to the starting lineup for the visit of Shakhtar.

Aside from that, Aritz Aduriz is expected to be Athletic's main focal point in attack, with Iker Muniain offering support from a wide position.

As for Shakhtar, a number of the Brazilian contingent at Mircea Lucescu's disposal, including Alex Teixeira, Douglas Costa, Luiz Adriano and Taison, should all start.

Shakhtar have made eight previous trips to Spain, but have only won on two occasions.

Recent form

Athletic: DLWWL

Shakhtar: WWWDWW

Possible starting lineups

Athletic: Iraizoz; San Jose, Laporte, Gurpegi, Balenziaga; Iturraspe, Rico, Gomez; Susaeta, Muniain, Aduriz

Shakhtar: Kanibolotskiy; Srna, Ordets, Krivtsov, Azevedo; Stepanenko, Fernando; Taison, Teixeira, Costa; Adriano

Sports Mole says: 1-0

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Viktoria Plzen's Stanislav Tecl is congratulated by teammates after scoring against Shakhtar Donetsk during their Europa League match on February 20, 2014
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