Real Sociedad earned their place in Europe’s elite with an impressive 4-0 aggregate triumph over Lyon, and no doubt they will be looking to extend the winning run against Shakhtar. The Ukrainians may not be firing on all cylinders at the moment, but their last year’s performances in Europe would suggest they could easily get something from Anoeta.
Real Sociedad returned to the Champions League after 10 years thanks to some amazing attacking displays in Spanish La Liga that saw them win the chase with Valencia for a top 4 finish last term. Having scored no less than 70 goals from 38 games, with their scoring record second only to El Clasico rivals, the team have become one of league’s most entertaining sides, and chances are they will continue the trend this season as well. Despite missing top scorer Imanol Agirretxe, Jagoba Arrasate’s men managed to score no less than four goals against Lyon, although they haven’t been as impressive on domestic stage. Nevertheless, with Agirretxe returning to the side and enthusiastic striker Haris Seferovic added to the ranks in the summer, the hosts have every reason to feel optimistic ahead of the clash with out-of-form Shakhtar. And while the team could lack some cover for the back line following the departure of Asier Illarramendi, their creative department should be in fine working order after Esteban Granero arrived to help the likes of Carlos Vela and Xabi Prieto. Seeing as how La Real tend to attack their opponents from the off at Anoeta, chances are we will see a highly entertaining encounter.
Imanol Agirretxe should play his first minutes after recovering from injury, but Inigo Martinez and Carlos Martinez remain doubtful.
Shakhtar out of form
Shakhtar Donetsk are making their ninth appearance in the Champions League and they are certainly hoping to improve on last season’s performance. Mircea Lucescu’s side were pretty impressive last term, pipping Chelsea to a place in the knockout stages before losing to Borussia Dortmund 5-2 on aggregate. The Miners, however, won their fourth successive league title and are now ready for another assault on he closing stages of Europe’s elite competition. The squad did suffer some big changes this summer, with Fernandinho, Mkhitaryan, Rat and Gai leaving, but they signed some excellent players in Bernard, Ferreyra, Fred, Fernando and Wellington Nem. Even so, things haven’t quite gone as planned given that Shakhtar currently sit in fourth place in the standings, having picked up just one point from last three matches. Nevertheless, that should make the team even more determined to do well in Sociedad, and their huge European experience should give them an extra edge in this high-profile clash.
Wellington Nem misses out with a knee injury, while star signing Bernard is expected to play some part after missing the last few games.
Real Sociedad are spoilt for choices up front and they won’t hesitate to attack their more illustrious opponents from the off. Even if Shakhtar are far from the desired form, they have more than enough quality to hurt the hosts on the break, so everything suggests we should see goals galore at Anoeta.
Top pick: Both teams to score 1.83 (5/6) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 2.05 (21/20) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Draw 3.40 (12/5) @ SkyBet
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