Shakhtar Donetsk had a difficult UEFA Champions League group stage draw and, after failing to capitalize on a 4-1 win over RB Leipzig, finished third and fell to the UEFA Europa League (UEL) playoff round. ). They are second in the Ukrainian Premier League, but as they have yet to see action after the winter break, facing Rennes in a two-legged series is a difficult reintroduction to official football after the sale of Mykhailo Mudryk to Chelsea in January.

Due to the security situation in Ukraine, this match will take place in Warsaw, so even Shakhtar will have to face a long journey to host this match. Extra travel has been a regular part of their European campaign in the 2022/23 season, making it easy to sympathize with their winless “home” record in Warsaw (D2, L1). A circumstantial source of inspiration could be their recent history against French opposition, which has been excellent (G1, E3).

That should give Rennes plenty to think about as they prepare for their first meeting with Shakhtar since 2005 (L 1-0) following an unbeaten UEL group stage (W3, D3) that included both home and away wins against the Shakhtar’s rivals, Dynamo Kiev. However, the French team will not come to this match in great shape after losing four of their last five official commitments (G1).

Coach Bruno Génésio regretted the «rookie mistakes» against Toulouse at the weekend (L 3-1), which he will need to eliminate if he wants to win a post-group stage European tie for the first time since the 2018/19 season . If they can eradicate said mistakes, they have a chance of extending a record of losing just one of their last seven (G5, D1) European away games (excluding desk results).

Players to watch: A man for big chances is Oleksandr Zubkov, who has scored four times before the 50th minute this season, including at home and away against Real Madrid. Amine Gouiri is also known for standing out early as he opened the scoring in the first five minutes in two of Rennes’ last three competitive matches.
Highlight: Three of Rennes’ last four games against Ukrainian opponents have recorded an 89th-minute goal.