Shakhtar Donetsk - Barcelona predictions and free betting tips [07/11/2023]
Today as part of the 4th round of the Champions League group stage, Shakhtar will be hosting Barcelona on their home field. The Catalans kicked off the European campaign brilliantly, topping group H with nine points, while Shakhtar sits third with three points and risks losing out on the playoffs with another setback.
Shakhtar: Riznyk; Konoplya, Bondar, Matvienko, Rakitskiy; Stepanenko, Bondarenko; Kryskiv, Sudakov, Zubkov; Sikan.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Kunde, Christensen; Cancelo, Gavi, Gundogan, Balde; Rafinha, Lewandowski, Felix.
The match is set to take place in Hamburg at the Volksparkstadion.
Due to the geopolitical situation, Shakhtar continues to play out of Ukraine in this Champions League, thus has their matches moved to Hamburg in Germany. Turning to the sports side, it's worth mentioning that the reigning national champions finally won a sole match in this group against Belgian club "Royal Antwerp" (2:3). As for the other matches, they succumbed to "Porto" (1:3) and "Barça" (2:1). In the domestic league, the hosts managed to beat "Dynamo" Kyiv (0:1) last weekend, vying for the championship title. However, they still hold third place in their league, trailing "Kryvbas" and "Polesye" by a couple of points. Generally, the Ukrainian team failed to escape the group stage in the last five Champions League editions, and a blunder on Tuesday would put Shakhtar in a tight spot ahead of the final two rounds.
In their encounter with Barcelona a fortnight ago, the team's top scorer in the league Kashchuk (3 goals in 7 matches) was unavailable – he's still on his way to recovery in the medical room. The same goes for Lemkin and Traore who are currently nursing injuries. However, Ukrainian Matvienko (also 3 goals), Sikan (2 goals, 3 assists in the league), and young midfielder Dmitry Kryskov (2 goals, 2 assists in the league) are all available for selection. Equally young and promising is Sudakov (21 years old), who found the back of the net a couple weeks ago and scored twice already in the current Ukrainian Championship (5 goals, 7 assists last season). Yaroslav Rakitskiy substituted Azarovich against the Kyivans and now it's expected that the 34-year-old centre-back will start against the Catalans.
Barcelona will be keen to build upon their successive victories in this year's European campaign, which includes three wins in three UCL rounds, including a triumph over "Porto" (0:1) at the beginning of October. In their previous match, the Blaugrana also did well, overpowering Shakhtar with far from their starting XI (2:1). In the domestic league, the Catalans also managed to stay unbeaten until succumbing to Real Madrid (1:2) in El Clasico. After suffering their first defeat of the season, the Blaugrana responded with a 0:1 victory over Real Sociedad last Saturday evening, courtesy of a Ronald Araujo goal. As a result, the team moved up to the third spot in the league table, trailing the leading "Girona" by 4 points. Overall, the Catalans have won seven out of their previous 11 away matches against Ukrainian opponents in European competitions, and a success on Tuesday would almost certainly ensure the visitors a spot in the round of 16.
In the first leg, several key players were absent in the line-up for the Catalans: Robert Lewandowski, Frenkie De Jong, Jules Koundé, midfielder Pedri, and Brazilian right-winger Rafinha. Apart from Dutch midfielder De Jong, who was joined on the injury list by team captain Sergi Roberto, everyone else is ready to play this time around and are expected to start. Pedri, who's been out of action since late August, played 30 minutes in Saturday's encounter with Real Sociedad. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid, on one-season loan), will occupy the left flank, while Gundogan and young Fermin Lopez will hold the central positions. Oriol Romeu, as usual, will be featured in the defensive midfield, with Christensen joining Kunde and Araujo in the defensive triad.
In the history of encounters between these clubs, the Catalans lead with 5 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw.
Match Prediction: Shakhtar - Barcelona
A nearly-optimal Barcelona lineup should hardly face difficulties snatching 3 points away in Hamburg and securing their fourth win in four group rounds. Shakhtar, currently third even in their domestic league, obviously doesn't match up with the Catalan giants. My prediction is a victory for the Blaugrana with a -1.5 handicap.
Barça has netted 8 goals in three UCL rounds, whereas Shakhtar conceded 7 in the same period. We confidently bet on the guests' individual total over 2.