Many people saw Shakhtar Donetsk's round of 16 win over AS Roma as an upset, but was it really an upset? The Italian league is clearly not as strong as we were led to believe it was. Two of their clubs have already been eliminated from the competition, with the only remaining club, Inter, trailing Bayern Munich after a 1-0 home defeat.
Meanwhile Shakhtar is a team on the rise. The club won the UEFA Cup in 2009, becoming the first Ukranian team to win a European competition. The club finished first in the Ukranian league in 2010, earning them a spot in the Champions League this season.
Despite being in the cold Ukraine, most of the Ukrainians in Shakhtar's squad play in defense or midfield. Up front, Shakhtar are led by a slew of Brazilians as well as Croatian striker and former Arsenal star Eduardo da Silva.
Eduardo, along with Brazilians Luis Adriano, Jadson, Willian, and Douglas Costa have led the Ukrainian side's attack throughout the Champions League. Jadson, Costa, and Luis Adriano all scored in the first leg at Roma, while a Willian brace and a late goal from Eduardo provided the three goals in the return leg.
While many people view the top teams from the Ukraine as not as strong as the second- or third-best teams from Spain, Italy, and England, Shakhtar Donetsk has established themselves as one of the most difficult places to play in Europe.
In August of 2009, Shakhtar moved in to their new stadium, Donbass Arena. Shakhtar have never lost a match at Donbass Arena. In fact, Shakhtar are unbeaten in their last 57 home matches in all competitions, and they have won their last 21 home matches. This is a streak that spans two stadiums and goes all the way back to October 22, 2008.
With such a commanding home record, it will be incredibly difficult for any team to go to the Donbass Arena and knock off Shakhtar. If Shakhtar could play well away from home, they could go very far in this competition.