MX23RW : Thursday, June 17 07:33:05| >> :120:76505:76505:
Mar 11, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
ShakhtarShakhtar Donetsk
Pellegrini (23'), El Shaarawy (73'), Mancini (77')
Kumbulla (55'), Mancini (83')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Patrick (58'), Maycon (74'), Taison (75')

Preview: Roma vs. Shakhtar Donetsk - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Long-time adversaries in the Champions League, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk meet in the last-16 of the Europa League on Thursday evening, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.

Led by former Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca, the Giallorossi progressed to this stage for the second successive season by winning both legs against Braga - another of Fonseca's former clubs.

Their visitors, meanwhile, dropped into the second-tier competition despite two wins against Real Madrid at the elite level, so now seek to surpass last year's run - when they went on to reach the semi-finals.

Match preview

Roma manager Paulo Fonseca pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Ahead of this week's first leg encounter, Roma are feeling the pressure to secure their first continental silverware since the 1960-61 Fairs Cup. Not only that, but coach Paulo Fonseca has been made all too aware that the Giallorossi's trophy cabinet has remained untouched for over a decade now, with the 2008 Coppa Italia being the club's last success.

Fonseca's men, though, come into a tricky tie fresh from two consecutive victories in Serie A - against Fiorentina and Genoa - that keep them firmly in the race for a place in the top four.

Having also breezed past Braga (5-1 on aggregate) last month, in Europa League action, the hosts are well set to progress deep into the latter stages of a competition which they have never won before.

It has not been all plain sailing for the Stadio Olimpico-based side, who may have only suffered their first league defeat on home soil several months into the season, but have been particularly brittle when not facing opponents of relatively lower stature. Five of their six defeats in an otherwise impressive domestic campaign have come against the current top teams in Italian football: Juventus, Milan, Napoli, Atalanta and arch-rivals Lazio.

Many have suggested that such a record highlights a mental weakness on the big occasion, though some attribute their failures to tactical recklessness by their attack-minded coach. Meeting with old friends for a second straight round, Fonseca can be assured that both his opposite number and the club he left in the summer of 2019 will know his adventurous modus operandi inside out.

Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois reacts after Raphael Varane scores an own goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on October 21, 2020© Reuters

Aiming to repeat and eventually surpass the semi-final stage they reached at the last attempt, Shakhtar Donetsk are intent on lifting the glittering Coupe UEFA for the second time in their history.

Despite their attention-grabbing double win over Real Madrid in Champions League Group B before the turn of the year, the Spanish champions overtook Shakhtar in the standings. The Ukrainian outfit therefore had to make do with the consolation prize of seeing off Roma's compatriots Inter to secure another crack at the Europa League.

Currently in second place in the Ukrainian Premier League - four points adrift of familiar foes Dynamo Kiev - Luis Castro's side suffered rare back-to-back defeats in recent weeks: their first loss of the season against Zorya was followed by a shock cup exit to Agrobiznes Volochysk just days later.

Rapidly recovering from that setback, the team currently based in Kiev due to the inflamed political situation in the Donbass region where they traditionally reside, picked up maximum points in last weekend's derby with Olimpik Donetsk.

Even though they now trail Dynamo, Castro's team can boast the best attack domestically - with 36 goals scored at a rate of nearly two per game - and the second-tightest defensive record, with just 12 goals conceded.

Having achieved the double in each of his three seasons with the club, their former coach Fonseca was replaced by his countryman Castro - a man who had also succeeded him as interim manager of Porto in 2014, following a spell in charge of the club's B team.

Roma's Armenian international playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan enjoyed a stellar period at Shakhtar too: also winning the double in all three of his seasons there and topping the scoring charts with 25 goals in 2012-13.

Notwithstanding such links, these clubs have been drawn together three times before in the Champions League and Shakhtar have recorded four wins to Roma's two. However, each side has won one of the two knockout ties they have contested to date and there remains little to choose between them on this occasion.

Roma Europa League form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Roma form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Shakhtar Donetsk Europa League form:
  • W
  • W

Shakhtar Donetsk form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Team News

Edin Dzeko in action for Roma on August 27, 2018© Reuters

Roma striker Edin Dzeko is set to be sidelined again on Thursday, having sat out the weekend's win over Genoa, so Europa League regular Borja Mayoral will continue in the central striker's role.

Having signed a new long-term contract last week, centre-back Roger Ibanez is still a doubt, while top scorer and set-piece specialist Jordan Veretout pulled up in agony and was carried off versus Fiorentina - apparently sustaining a serious thigh injury which could see the Frenchman miss the rest of the month. The match-winner in Florence, Amadou Diawara, should therefore continue deputising for Veretout in midfield, while Bryan Cristante is set to switch back to the engine room after a spell covering injuries in the back three.

Forwards Stefan El Shaarawy and Pedro were offered rare starts in the league, but may make way for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini, who should shift into a more advanced role than on Sunday.

Visiting manager Luis Castro fielded a more or less full-strength side in the Donetsk derby, though both Alan Patrick - who could join Maycon in central midfield - and in-demand winger Manor Solomon may be drafted into the starting XI.

One of a customarily burgeoning Brazilian-born contingent, Ukraine international Marlos should start in support of Junior Moraes, who is set to lead the line in Castro's side.

Deep-lying midfielder Taras Stepanenko remains out of commission with a knee injury sustained late last month.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Mirante; Mancini, Smalling, Kumbulla; Karsdorp, Cristante, Diawara, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Mayoral

Shakhtar Donetsk possible starting lineup:
Trubi; Dodo, Kryvtsov, Vitao, Matvienko; Patrick, Maycon; Solomon, Marlos, Taison; Moraes

SM words green background

We say: Roma 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk

Roma's exceptional record at the Olimpico this term has the Serie A side firm favourites for a first-leg win on Thursday, with goals almost guaranteed.

Their experienced opponents, though, can use all their hard-earned guile at this level in order to steal what could prove to be an invaluable away goal before the return game next week.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Arsene Wenger watches on during the Europa League group game between Arsenal and Red Star Belgrade on November 2, 2017
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