Both teams were technically on the road for the first leg of the round of 16 draw between Bayern Munich and Shakhtar Donetsk. With political unrest keeping Shakhtar from its home stadium in eastern Ukraine, they were forced to host Bayern at Arena Lviv on the opposite side of the country. The Germans traveled 1200 kilometers east from their base in Bavaria; Shakhtar was forced to travel 1200 kilometers west to play their “home” match.
Neither team benefited much from the arrangement, which was played on a frosty Lviv day and left both sides looking lethargic. For the Ukrainians, the match was their first competitive action since their last Champions League matchday more than two months earlier. For the runaway Bundesliga leaders, only the cold climate could explain their inability to look lively.
Rafinha, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Thomas Muller all had solid chances to put the visitors ahead early, and only a combination of Andriy Pyatov in the Shakhtar goal and bad marksmanship could prevent Bayern from rolling up the score. Munich held nearly two-thirds of the possession and generated eight scoring chances on the day, but only Rafinha’s early chance would force Pyatov into vital action.
Instead the game was notable for its chippiness, as Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco was forced to whistle foul after foul; the match would finish with 35 total fouls called, seven yellow cards issued, and in the 65th-minute a second offense led to an early exit for Xabi Alonso, bringing his 100th Champions League appearance to a premature end and putting the visitors on the defensive for the rest of their time in Ukraine. That they walked away with a scoreless draw is probably lucky given the way things could have gone in the last half hour of play.
Bayern will almost certainly wake up once it is back at the Allianz Arena, where they are undefeated with a 13-1-0 this season and haven’t lost a match since last April. Does Shakhtar really have the firepower to pull off a result like Real Madrid did in last year’s Champions League semifinal, who trounced Bayern 4-0 nearly a year ago? Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, their counterpart in this year’s round of 16 is nearly unbeatable at home — and unlike Shakhtar, Bayern actually gets to play in their home stadium.
Shakhtar Donetsk has had one hell of a run this season, amid the turmoil transpiring at home. A fearsome attack, spearheaded by Champions League leading scorer Luiz Adriano, has plenty of firepower to challenge Manuel Neuer’s goal. The only problem is that they’ll have to get the ball first against a team that loves playing possession football.
There is really nothing the Ukrainians will be able to do to hold back Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut once they get rolling on home soil. With the Bavarians’ stacked lineup able to bring on players like Robert Lewandowski as super-subs, there are simply too many options at Guardiola’s disposal to think the aggregate scoreline will remain scoreless for long.
Alonso will be sidelined for the next match after receiving his yellow card in Lviv, but his absence won’t make or break the Germans’ passage through to the quarterfinals. Look for a runaway result in Munich to put Bayern through 3-0 on aggregate. Muller is due a goal, Arjen Robben is likely to net another, and anyone from Franck Ribery to David Alaba could grab the third.