Igor Leonov: Return leg vs Anderlecht will be very different

Shakhtar defender of the 1990s shared his vision of Shakhtar’s UEFA Europa League Last 16 second leg.

- I am expecting a great performance from Shakhtar. I am sure they will be able to show their best qualities in Brussels. We will see the match that’s completely different from the one in Ukraine.

- How big an advantage does the 3-1 win in Lviv grant the Pitmen?
- That’s a great cushion. Nevertheless, our team should not get complacent. It is necessary for them to prepare in the best way possible and produce the same performance as they did away against Schalke. Besides, after the first match, the Donetsk team have analysed the Belgians’ performance and made certain conclusions. The footballers of Anderlecht will definitely try to do everything possible to do their best. In Belgium, many talent scouts from top European clubs keep an eye on the teams, picking some gifted players.

- The Belgians’ mentor Besnik Hasi said that in Brussels his team would have to take risks. Will the Donetsk team find it handy if the opponents launch attacks giving Shakhtar open spaces?
- I think so. Our guys can make quick transitions from defence to attack and are good at counterattacking. It is important that Taison has fully recovered, the Pitmen will be very much in need of his help.

- Will the return of Taras Stepanenko to the holding area allow Viktor Kovalenko to fully open up front?
- It all depends on the decision of Mircea Lucescu. He knows the players’ condition, so he will pick the optimum line-up and determine how each of them should play.

- You have some experience with the Belgian sides. Do the away team feel the pressure from the crowd in this country?
- In Brussels, the fans will definitely provide Anderlecht with good support. But Shakhtar are experienced team, this factor should not confuse them. I will say the following based on my own experience: playing with the full stands, even if they support your opponents, is always easier than in case of the empty stands. This creates a good football atmosphere.