Shakhtar Donetsk head coach Igor Jovicevic has called on supporters to help them overcome their fear of Celtic as the Ukrainian side prepare to play their first Champions League home game in Warsaw.
Shakhtar started their group campaign with a shock 4-1 win over RB Leipzig which prompted the German side to sack manager Domenico Tedesco and Jovicevic believes they are the underdogs again.
“This will be a very, very challenging game for us,” he said. “They have shown what they are capable of in the Scottish championship. They play very good combination football, a very aggressive game, a very dynamic game.
“This is a high-adrenaline match. There is a sense of adrenaline and fear. A sporting fear. Without fear in sports there is no courage, no drive forward.”
Most of the tickets have been sold for the game at the 31,800-capacity Municipal Stadium of Legia Warsaw, with Celtic supporters also snapping up tickets in the home end.
Conflict in the Donbas region has forced Donetsk to play their domestic home games outside their home city since 2014, firstly in Lviv and then Kharkiv and now back in Lviv this season following the full-scale invasion of Russian troops in February.
Jovicevic is grateful for Legia’s offer of their training facilities and stadium for European games and he anticipates strong backing on Wednesday.
“We are expecting a full house,” the Croatian said. “We need the fans to share their impetus, their energy, their drive with us so we can fight from the very first minute to the very last.
“We are going to be playing for our fans, for all those people out there and all those people who come to the stadium.
“They are having their own problems, their own personal difficulties. We are playing for them and with them.
“So we expect to play a very good game just like we did at Leipzig.”
Jovicevic stressed that his team do not need to dominate possession to win – Leipzig had 64 per cent of the ball in Germany and 85 attacks compared to Shakhtar’s nine, but it did them little good.
“When we play our opponents, they are always the favourites,” the coach said.
“Leipzig were the favourites, Celtic are the favourites, Real Madrid will be the favourites. But we will do what we need to do and show what we are capable of.”
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