Opponents: Schalke 04
At the Europa League Round of 32 stage, Shakhtar will take on Schalke 04 from Germany. One of the most popular clubs in Germany was founded in 1904 in Gelsenkirchen. Mining has long been practised in this city, so Schalke and Shakhtar have been united not only by their participation in the Europa League, but also by the nickname – the Miners.
The German team won the domestic title seven times, but last time they did it half a century ago – back in 1958. The Blue-Whites also claimed five German Cups, the last of which was lifted in the 2010/11 season. Schalke achieved their best European competition result in 1997 by winning the UEFA Cup.
At the end of the previous season, the German Miners claimed the sixth spot, which gave them the right to participate in the main Europa League draw. In the K group, the Germans had a company of Prague-based Sparta, Asteras of Greece and APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus. Shakhtar’s opponents won four matches, drawing two more and eventually claiming the top spot in the group. During the tournament, the team scored 15 goals and conceded just three.
Schalke play their home games at the Veltins-Arena, which can accommodate 61,673 spectators. Since June 12, 2015, the team have been coached by a 42-year-old German specialist Andre Breitenreiter. At the moment, under his leadership, the Miners sit in the eighth spot in the Bundesliga.
It is noteworthy that Shakhtar and Schalke had met at the UEFA Cup Round of 32 stage, it happened in the 2004/05 season. The match in Donetsk ended 1-1, and in the second leg the Pitmen one claiming the only goal that was scored by Julius Aghahowa.