It’s been an inauspicious start to the domestic campaign for RB Leipzig with the nadir of their current troubles developing on Saturday evening as fellow Champions League club Eintracht Frankfurt put four past them without return in the Bundesliga. Precocious technocrat Domenico Tedesco must now rally the troops for Tuesday’s opening Group F game against a Shakhtar Donetsk side very much in limbo.
The Saxons have posted just the single win in their opening five games of the Bundesliga campaign, so the emphasis on producing something tangible in front of a concerned home audience in midweek has no doubt been amplified. European greenhorns in 2017, the Red Bulls are now regulars on the continental circuit, famously reaching the semi-finals in 2019/20, so they certainly know what is required to navigate these awkward opening games.
Shakhtar Donetsk have lost several key players owing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not to mention their former boss Roberto De Zerbi, but under Igor Jovicevic, they’ll be hopeful of causing a splash in Europe’s premier tournament. Shakhtar have a solid track record in the Champions League, and will be hoping that European pedigree can galvanise them in a tricky group also containing Celtic and the defending trophy-hoggers, Real Madrid.
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RB Leipzig vs Shakhtar Donetsk match stats
In 2021/22, Christopher Nkunku (12 goals) overtook Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg (both 11) to become RB Leipzig’s top goalscorer in major European competition (excluding qualifiers). Indeed the 24-year-old Parisian netted seven goals across six games in last season’s Champions League, underlining his emergence as the Saxons’ attacking cynosure.
Despite early stumbles in Germany, Tedesco should fancy his chances of getting the job done on Tuesday. The still relatively infant club have only lost one of their last eight home games in the Champions League group stages, which came during a 2-1 reversal to Club Brugge in September 2021.
This will be the first time RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk have met in an official competition. Shakhtar have previously met 11 German clubs, including Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Frankfurt, while Leipzig took on Ukrainian outfit Zorya Lugansk in the 2018/19 Europa League qualifying stages, winning 3-2 on aggregate.
Are RB Leipzig or Shakhtar Donetsk among early UCL favourites?
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