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Shakhtar Donetsk v Partizan Belgrade: Preview
Partizan Belgrade will be looking to avoid a repeat of last season's heavy defeat at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk when they kick off their Champions League Group H campaign at the Donbass Arena.
The two sides met in the group stages of the Europa League last term and Shakhtar ran out comfortable 4-1 winners when the sides met in the Ukraine.Marko Lomic's own goal gave the Donetsk side the lead with Luiz Adriano, Jadson and Yaroslav Rakitskiy also getting on the scoresheet.
Partizan gained a modicum of revenge with a 1-0 win in Serbia, but will need to be defensively sound against the 2009 UEFA Cup winners.To that end Alexander Stanojevic, the coach of the Serbian champions, is hoping to have veteran defender Mladen Krstajic available as the 36-year-old recovers from a broken nose, with there being the possibility that he could wear a mask to play.
But the coach also insists that he will not play Krstajic if it has a long-term impact on his availability.He said: "He insists that he can play, but I still make the final decision.
"When someone has such desire, then you cannot let him decide. He is our captain and has shown overwhelming desire and motivation regardless of the broken nose.
"But Shakhtar have been hit by a major injury blow with the loss of Brazilian playmaker Fernandinho to a serious leg injury.The 25-year-old suffered the injury in the weekend win over Obolon in the Ukrainian league, and he thanked the club's fans and staff for their support.
"As many of you have probably seen during the match against Obolon, I have suffered a serious injury to my right leg that will rule me out of the action for a while," he said in a statement on the club website.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for the support that I received including the fans, club staff and the board of directors as well as my team-mates who have been very supportive since the injury.
"I will be supporting the club off the pitch during their domestic championship campaign and the UEFA Champions League. Very soon I hope to be playing for Shakhtar again."
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