Toulouse FC-FC Shakhtar Donetsk Preview
From my Toulouse FC Blog.
After an impressive win against Paris Saint-Germain at the Stadium Municipal on Sunday, Toulouse look to take their winning ways to The Ukraine to take on current UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk in their first ever meeting.
Going into the PSG game, Le Tef were resting a number of their players for this week’s matchup, including Etienne Didot, Daniel Braaten and Mathieu Berson. But most of their players should be available for Thursday’s match. The only players of note missing are still Mauro Cetto and Fodé Mansaré. Didot and Paulo Machado have been good replacements for Mansaré while defending midfielder Etienne Capoue has done a stellar job replacing Cetto.
Even with a healthy team, Toulouse will have their hands full against the defending UEFA Cup champs. FC Shakhtar Donetsk know how the put the goal in the net. In 19 European matches, the Ukrainian side had scored 53 goals, and average of 2.78 goals a game. So far in the Europa League, Donetsk has scored eight goals, while Toulouse has scored five. Group J is the highest scoring group in Europa League play.
Toulouse will have to keep their eye on Donetsk striker Oleksandr Gladkiy, who has scored 23 goals in 63 game. Other possible scoring threats for Shakhtar Donetsk are Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho and Ukrainian midfielder Kostyantyn Kravchenko.
While both teams have done a good job scoring in Europa League play, the same cannot be said as far as keeping the ball out of their own net. Donetsk has only allowed two goals in two games, while Toulouse has allowed four goals. This will add more pressure to Toulouse goaltender Yohann Pele, who turned heads last week with some great saves against Paris SG.
Another question that needs to be answered for Toulouse fans is if Andre-Pierre Gignac can punch the ball into the net. Gignac has not had the greatest of season in Ligue 1, and the same can be said in the group stage of the Europa League. Gignac has only scored one goal against Brugge, a game that Toulouse should have won at home. This matchup, though, will be a hard one for Gignac to get his scoring touch back.
And with Toulouse struggling this season, Alain Casanova isn’t taking their opponent lightly. “Shakthar is a team that would play for the title in Ligue 1 and who should be in the Champions League. It is a team that won the UEFA last season, a very strong team,” said Casanova to the official TFC website. He added that Toulouse needs to prepare for this game as if they were playing Lyon, Paris, Marseille or Bordeaux.
Casanova also said that this will be Toulouse’s hardest match so far, and they are playing a team that has played together for several years now and the players know each other well. Casanova also expects a fast pace game, which should lead to high scoring.