Shakhtar and Hoffenheim deliver football spectacle at the Metalist

Shakhtar and Hoffenheim deliver football spectacle at the Metalist

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Manuel Veth –

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim delievered what it promised – a wide open affair with both teams trying to play attractive football. In the end, the spectators were treated to four fantastic goals by two sides playing great football.

  • The battle of the tactical prodigees delievers
  • Hoffenheim take the lead twice
  • Maycon salvages a point for Shakhtar

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim

Goals: 0-1 (Florian Grillitsch, 5′), 1-1  (Ismaily, 27′), 1-2 (Havard Nordtveit, 38′), 2-2 (Maycon, 81′)

Despite an injury crisis that has taken out most of Hoffenheim’s creative midfield Hoffenheim had a fantastic start to their first ever Champions League group stage campaign.

A beautiful combination through Shakhtar’s midfield found Leonardo Bittencourt at the edge of the box and the attacking midfielder put through a pass between two Shakhtar defenders finding Florian Grillitsch, who had plenty of space in the box to lop goalkeeper Andrey Pyatov.

That goal was a perfect example of Julian Nagelsmann tactical understanding. Faced with having to replace all his creative midfielders the 31-year-old coach played Andrej Kramarić and Joelinton together with Bittencourt in attacking midfield. Behind the three Grillitsch played as a deep-lying creative midfielder.

It was a setup that led to the first goal, with Grillitsch joining the rush from a deep position. But it was also a setup that caused a bunch of problems for the Ukrainians. Shakhtar struggled to gain control of the match and Hoffenheim produced the next chance in the 16′ minute with Adam Szalai provided with room to fire a volley after rotating around his axle, Pyatov was on guard to stop the shot.

Shakhtar controlled all the possession in the opening 25 minutes, however, and slowly got back into the match. Yaroslav Rakitskiy missed a header in the 26′ minute. One minute later though Ismaily found the net with a wonderful effort. Coming deep from his half the left-back cut through Hoffenheim’s defence and capped off his run with the equaliser in the 27′ minute.

The back and forth continued. In the 37′ minute, a Nico Schulz cross found Bittencourt in the box but his header was to central, and Pyatov was able to make the stop. Two minutes later Hoffenheim had the lead with Havard Nordtveit beating Pyatov to a corner to head home achtzehn99‘s second goal.

Newcomers Hoffenheim carried that lead into the second-half. For the first ten minutes of the second half the two sides tested and probed one-another and then Paulo Fonseca brought on super-talent Viktor Kovalenko and all of a sudden the match opened up again.

On the 61′ minute Ismaily appeared to have scored his second. Combining well with Taison on the left-flank Ismaily was once again through, but his low drive missed Oliver Baumann’s goal at the far post.

The second half continued with both sides playing open and expansive football, but at the same time, neither side developed the sort of clear-cut chances that we saw by both teams early on in the first half.

Hoffenheim with the goal up proceeded by dropping deeper, trying to absorb Shakhtar’s pressure and in turn hit the Ukrainians on the counter. Nonetheless, Shakhtar managed to create some chances with the biggest one falling to Taison in the 78′, but his shot from inside the box failed to hit the target.

A  minutes later in the 81′ minute, Champions League debutant, Maycon was luckier. The 21-year-old Brazilian received a ball from Taison 25-yards from goal and instead of closing the gap hammered the ball home with a booming shot that found the gap between two Hoffenheim defenders leaving Baumann with no chance.

Marlos could have/should have won it for Shakhtar in the 90′ minute. Wide open in Hoffenheim’s box the forward had to curl the ball home but defender Stefan Posch sprinted across to block the shot at the last minute. Both teams were then looking for the winner as the dying moments of the game were wide open, but neither side could come up with the breakthrough that would produce a winner in what had been a fantastic match.

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim – Man of the Match

Hard to pick one player in this match. There have been many standout performances on both sides. Ultimately, 21-year-old Maycon had the most significant impact, however. Shakhtar head coach Paulo Fonseca handed the new signing from Corinthians his debut tonight, and the central midfielder had a big impact. Completing all of his passes Maycon took control of the match and then scored the equaliser with what could be the goal of the matchday in the 81′ minute.

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim -Maycon of Shakhtar Donetsk scores his team's second goal during the Group F match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Shakhtar Donetsk and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Donbass Arena on September 19, 2018 in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim -Maycon of Shakhtar Donetsk scores his team’s second goal during the Group F match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Shakhtar Donetsk and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Donbass Arena on September 19, 2018, in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim – Talking Point

Two of the most exciting head coaches in Europe went toe-to-toe on Wednesday night at the Metalist in Kharkiv. On the one side you had 45-year-old Paulo Fonseca, who likes to play wide-sweeping counter football and on the other side, you had Julian Nagelsmann, whose controlled 3-5-2 system is the most adaptable in the European game. Nagelsmann, however, had to make some adjustments with several of his creative midfielders out injured.

Nagelsmann surprised Fonseca by playing several forwards in midfield, while also sitting deep forcing Shakhtar into playing possession football – something the Ukrainians are unused to in Europe. As a result, it took Shakhtar some time to adjust and the Ukrainians, despite controlling the final 20 minutes of the game, can feel fortunate to have collected one point from this game.

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim – Match Stats

  • With his appearance tonight for Hoffenheim against Shakhtar Donetsk, Reiss Nelson becomes the eighth Englishman to achieve this feat.
  • Aged 31 years and 58 days, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann is the youngest ever manager in the Champions League.
  • Hoffenheim are the 13th German club to feature in the UEFA Champions League – a joint competition record with Spain.

Shakhtar v Hoffenheim – Line-ups

Shakhtar Donetsk:

Formation: 4-1-3-2

Pyatov – Ismaily, Rakitskiy, Khocholava, Butko – Alan Patrick (Maycon, 76), Stepanenko – Bolbat (Kovalenko, 57′), Taison, Marlos – Junior Moraes

Coach: Paulo Fonseca

1899 Hoffenheim:

Formation: 4-1-4-1

Baumann – Posch, Vogt, Nordtveit – Schulz, Grillitsch, Kaderabek – Kramarić (Nelson, 85′), Bittencourt (Demirbay, 64′), Joelinton – Szalai (Zuber, 75′)

Coach: Julian Nagelsmann


Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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