Shakhtar in crisis?
Shakhtar Donetsk lost for the 3rd time already in the UPL and they have only played 11 games.
A 2:1 defeat to local rivals Metalurg Donetsk was preceded by defeats to Zorya and Dynamo.
Playing away from home due to the security situation in Donbas appeared not to phase Shakhtar at the start of the season as they romped to 6 straight wins. But it is not the home form which is the problem as the 3 defeats have all come on the road (all in Kyiv).
Dnipro currently lead the UPL and play 2nd placed Dynamo on Sunday. Friday’s game was a chance for Shakhtar to (albeit temporarily) reduce the gap at the top of the UPL and put pressure on Dynamo and Dnipro. Instead they squandered the opportunity and will fall further adrift of at least one of the Dnipro-riverside clubs and potentially seven points behind, should Dnipro win.
Rumours are abound that Mircea Lucescu is set to take the reins of the Romania national team in the new year and leave his post at Shakhtar at the end of the season.
This unprecedented league slump, continued rumours about Lucescu’s future and the grave situation in Donetsk make this difficult times for ‘The Miners’.
It is not all bad news from Shakhtar however, as they have not been performing badly in the Champions League however. Their record 7:0 victory on Match Day 3 against BATE and draws against Porto and Atletico has left them second in the group and in a good position to qualify. It is the league form which is more concerning.
It is still early in the season however and Shakhtar have more than enough quality to recover from this blip and maintain their grip on the UPL. It is adding to the intrigue however as the UPL is set up nicely for a three horse race to the title.
These are difficult times for Shakhtar and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the situation.
Shakhtar’s next fixture is against BATE Borisov in the Champions League at Arena Lviv on November 5th.
Article by Peter Chymera, Vice-President of the UK Ukrainian Sports Supporters Club and co-founder of the Viktor Leonenko Hall of Fame. Follow Peter on twitter – @PMChymera89