Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk have the edge in this UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie after winning the first leg 2-1 in Germany, but Wolfsburg, who are bidding to reach a fourth European quarter-final in four continental campaigns, will be looking to their excellent away record in this competition for inspiration.
• Shakhtar entered this season’s UEFA Champions League at the group stage, but their hopes of prolonging the campaign into the spring were dashed by a closing 0-3 home defeat by Atalanta, who thus pipped them to the runners-up spot behind Manchester City. Benfica, who had also moved across from the UEFA Champions League, were then overcome in the round of 32 as Shakhtar won 2-1 in Kharkiv and drew 3-3 in Lisbon.
• Wolfsburg came through the group stage as runners-up to unbeaten Gent, on 11 points, before comfortably disposing of Swedish side Malmö in the round of 32, adding a 3-0 away success to a 2-1 home win.
• Shakhtar opened and closed the scoring in the first leg, Júnior Moraes heading in after 16 minutes and 19-year-old Marcos Antônio doing likewise, with his first European goal, after 73 to win the game following John Brooks’ 48th-minute equaliser – also a header, and also the Wolfsburg defender’s first goal in UEFA competition.
• Shakhtar have now faced German clubs on 23 occasions (W8 D8 L7), the most precious win having come on neutral terrain when they defeated Werder Bremen 2-1 after extra time in Istanbul to win the last ever UEFA Cup in 2008/09.
• All of Shakhtar’s last seven home games against German visitors have ended in draws, that run preceded by two wins, both when they represented the Soviet Union, and their solitary defeat – 0-2 against Borussia Dortmund in the third qualifying round of the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League. Their record in two-legged UEFA ties against German opposition is W3 L5, the most recent, against Eintracht Frankfurt, resulting in elimination from last season’s UEFA Europa League in the round of 32 (2-2 h, 1-4 a).
• Wolfsburg met Ukrainian opposition in UEFA competition for the first time earlier this season, beating UEFA Europa League group stage debutants Olexandriya home (3-1) and away (1-0).
• Shakhtar won the Ukrainian league last season, claiming the title for the 12th time and also completing a domestic double for the third season in a row, which gave them a third successive appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage – and 14th in all.
• The Pitmen picked up just one victory in the group stage this season, 2-1 at Atalanta with an added-time winner on Matchday 2. They then drew three games in succession, two against Dinamo Zagreb (2-2 h, 3-3 a) and the third, 1-1, away to a Manchester City side who had beaten them 3-0 in Kharkiv on Matchday 1. They ended the section with that decisive defeat by Atalanta to book a fourth UEFA Europa League knockout phase berth in five seasons.
• The elimination of Benfica has put Shakhtar into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second time. They were victorious on their only previous visit, overcoming Anderlecht 4-1 on aggregate in 2015/16 (3-1 h, 1-0 a) with Taison opening the scoring in the first leg in Lviv.
• With their 2-1 victory against Benfica, the Donetsk club ended a seven-game winless run in home European fixtures (D4 L3), though they won four in a row prior to that sequence – all in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
• Shakhtar have won nine of the ten UEFA competition ties in which they were victorious away from home in the first leg, although they lost the most recent, against Celta Vigo in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32 (1-0 a, 0-2 h). Those nine wins include two after a 2-1 away success in the first game, both in the UEFA Europa League – against Braga in the 2015/16 quarter-final (4-0 h) and İstanbul Başakşehir in the 2016/17 play-offs (2-0 h).
• A sixth-placed finish in last season’s Bundesliga gave Wolfsburg direct entry into the UEFA Europa League group stage and a first European adventure since they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16.
• Wolfsburg made it three UEFA Europa League group stage qualifications out of three as they finished runners-up to Gent this season, six of their points coming against Olexandriya and four against Saint-Étienne (1-1 a, 1-0 h).
• Victory over Malmö put the German club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time, their previous two ties at this stage having both ended in victory – against Rubin in 2009/10 (1-1 a, 2-1 h) and Internazionale in 2014/15 (3-1 h, 2-1 a).
• Quarter-finalists therefore in each of their last three European campaigns, Wolfsburg are unbeaten in their last nine UEFA Europa League away fixtures (W5 D4), which leaves them just two behind the competition record, held jointly by Italian duo Fiorentina and Lazio. Their overall away record in the competition is W5 D6 L2, with no defeats anywhere other than in England.
• Wolfsburg have lost the first home leg of a UEFA tie on three previous occasions and failed to progress every time, most recently against Napoli in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League quarter-final (1-4 h, 2-2 a).
Links and trivia
• Shakhtar’s Yevhen Konoplyanka played in Germany for Schalke from 2016–19. He only played once, as a late substitute, against Wolfsburg, in a 1-1 home draw in October 2017, remaining on the bench for three other games between the two teams.
• Wolfsburg’s Swiss international Admir Mehmedi played in Ukraine for Dynamo Kyiv from 2012–13, losing two games against Shakhtar and appearing as a substitute in both.
• Shakhtar are one of four UEFA Champions League group stage participants to have reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16, along with Bayer Leverkusen, Internazionale and Olympiacos.
• Although there are no Portuguese clubs in the round of 16, four of them having dropped out in the round of 32, Shakhtar boss Luís Castro is one of four Portuguese head coaches still involved in the competition, alongside Nuno Espírito Santo (Wolves), Pedro Martins (Olympiacos) and Paulo Fonseca (Roma).
• Shakhtar’s record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W0 L2:
1-4 v Club Brugge, 2002/03 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
2-4 v Young Boys, 2016/17 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
• Wolfsburg have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
• Appointed Shakhtar Donetsk head coach in June 2019, Luís Castro replaced his compatriot Paulo Fonseca – a move he had also previously made back in 2014 when he stepped in as an interim replacement for the current Roma boss at Porto. A right-back, he spent most of his 17-year playing career in the lower leagues, and he also made a relatively discreet start in coaching before joining top-flight Penafiel in 2004. He was on Porto’s coaching staff for a decade (2006–16) before spending one season apiece as the head coach of Rio Ave, Chaves and Vitória SC.
• Austrian coach Oliver Glasner signed a three-year contract in the spring of 2019 to succeed Bruno Labbadia at Wolfsburg. He arrived in Germany with a growing reputation having led LASK Linz to a runners-up spot in the Austrian Bundesliga just two seasons after steering the club to promotion from the second tier. A former centre-back, Glasner spent virtually his entire career with Ried, with whom he won the Austrian Cup twice, 13 years apart, in 1998 and 2011. He also spent a season as the club’s coach before joining LASK in 2015.