Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu insists his side will not be overawed ahead of their Champions League meeting with Barcelona.The 65-year-old, who has been in charge of the Ukrainian Champions since 2004, is no stranger to European triumph – guiding his side to the 2008-09 UEFA Cup with success against Werder Bremen in Istanbul.
The Ukrainians have also enjoyed success against Barcelona in recent seasons, beating them 3-2 at the Nou Camp in the 2008-09 Champions League group stage and almost taking them to penalties before losing 1-0 in the 2009 UEFA Super Cup.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Nou Camp, Lucescu said his side were well aware of the strengths of the Catalans.
“We have played against them lots of times,” Lucescu said. “We know how Barcelona play.”
“The players and I have a lot of respect for (Barca coach Pep) Guardiola – he’s one of the most promising coaches in the world, very intelligent.”
“Their players have been together for a long time, they are very fast, technically excellent and we have to counter that.”
“It’s the team spirit in particular that makes them so strong. Barcelona are the strongest team in football history for me so it’ll be a very difficult match but we will have a good go. Barcelona are favourites but we have a chance.”
Lucescu said his first priority was ensuring his side were still capable of winning the tie heading in to the second leg in Donetsk on April 12.
“We have to bear in mind we have two matches. Every other team has lost to them so we just want to play well and ensure we are still in with a chance for the return,” he said.
“Shakhtar have developed more than anyone in recent years and it’s an important moment for us to reach the quarter-finals.”