KIEV - AS Roma have undergone a dramatic
transformation since losing 3-2 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in
the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie and travel
to Ukraine for the return in confident mood.
Roma have gained a new manager, won two matches, drawn one
and lost one since their shock defeat last month by Shakhtar who
are making their debut in the knockout round.
"We must think about one game at a time and we're going to
Ukraine to win," said coach Vincenzo Montella after Friday's 2-1
victory at Lecce thanks to a late David Pizarro penalty.
Montella mentioned one game at a time because Roma, who were
European Cup runners-up in 1984 when they lost to Liverpool in
Rome, face city rivals Lazio in their next Serie A game on
Sunday and wants to avoid his players being distracted.
There is a lot riding on Tuesday's game for both sides with
Shakhtar manager Mircea Lucescu keenly aware of the stakes.
"For Roma it is the match that may save their whole season.
For us it is the future that we have been waiting and longing
for," he said after Shakhtar beat lowly Sevastopol 1-0 last week
in their first domestic league match since late November.
The five-times Ukraine champions have had the upper hand
over domestic rivals Dynamo Kiev since 2002, when wealthy local
businessman Rinat Akhmetov took over as president, and tbey
currently have a 12-point lead at the top of the standings.
But Roma, sixth in Serie A, head to Donetsk in much more
confident mood than they were in the run-up to the first match
with Claudio Ranieri having resigned as coach and Montella
taking over as interim boss until the end of the season.
Montella has brought a breath of fresh air to the club which
has lifted the team and, given their inconsistencies this term,
no Roma fan would put it past them to beat Shakhtar in eastern
Ukraine and turn the tables in the tie.
Conceding three away goals is a big handicap but Montella
refuses to give up and is likely to field an attacking lineup
with captain Francesco Totti available after a domestic ban.
The 2009 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar are unbeaten at home,
including their last 11 games in Europe, since moving to the
Donbass Arena in August 2009.
And while they have lost five of their last six home games
against Italian teams, the notable exception was a 1-0 win over
Roma four seasons ago.
Shakhtar did not look impressive in their first Ukrainian
premier league outing since the winter break began and needed a
last-gasp goal from Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano to take the
points from second-bottom Sevastopol on Thursday.
Lucescu was disappointed with the performance and partly
blamed the lacklustre display on the Champions League.
"These are a very important three points for us ahead of the
Roma clash," he said. "Some our players were already thinking
about the game against the Italian team so I had to substitute
Shakhtar will be without central defender Olexandr Kucher
and Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho through injury on Tuesday.
Roma playmaker Jeremy Menez is suspended as is right back
Marco Cassetti, although he is injured anyway. Nicolas Burdisso
may shift across from centre-half. Striker Adriano is still out
with a shoulder problem and broken arm.
Shakhtar Donetsk: 30-Andriy Pyatov; 33-Darijo Srna,
27-Dmytro Chygrynskiy, 44-Yaroslav Rakitskiy, 26-Razvan Rat;
3-Tomas Hubschman, 15-Taras Stepanenko; 20-Douglas Costa,
8-Jadson, 10-Willian; 9- Luiz Adriano.
Roma: 32-Doni; 29-Nicolas Burdisso, 4-Juan, 5-Philippe
Mexes, 17-John Arne Riise; 7-David Pizarro, 16-Daniele De Rossi,
20-Simone Perrotta; 10-Francesco Totti, 22-Marco Borriello,
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