After the initial shock wave, the Turkish football media has begun to calm down the over their fear of Shakhtar Donetsk by looking at the fixture through the lens of their coach's, Mircea Lucescu, 10 years in Istanbul. The conclusion was simple, Lucescu makes his teams play counter attacking football and if Fenerbahçe do not let Shakhtar produce lethal counters then there won't be any problems. Nevertheless, as you can guess, things have changed a lot since Mircea Lucescu left Istanbul and took charge of Shakhtar Donetsk. But it seems that the media is a bit selective when it comes to embracing the truth, as Uğur Meleke from Milliyet said: "Shakhtar's Champions League statistics last season explain how they are going to play against Fenerbahçe. According to OPTA data, Lucescu's team was the team that made the least amount of passes (3,374) and shots (56) last season in the Champions League. Added to that, they do not do press often and they usually intercept the ball in the middle of their own half. But they had the highest shot-goal ratio (27 percent) in last year's Champions League."
Like Alex Ferguson's famous "mini-skirt" quote about statistics, I can easily say that these statistics do not reflect Shakhtar Donetsk's ability. First of all, when you take statistics one by one and cleave them from the context that they have meaning in, they will almost always create an illusion. Here, Uğur Meleke's mistake was that he picked the "cute" statistics that would relieve Fenerbahçe. But the truth is, Shakhtar had more ball possession and made more shots and passes than most of their rivals in the group stage. Nonetheless, it was unfortunate for them to be matched against Bayern Munich in the round of 16, which skewed their averages.
However, this season's Shakhtar is even more organized and dangerous than last year's, because unlike Fenerbahçe, Shakhtar put more emphasis on their system and style than they do on just amassing talent. The superior mind of the team, Mircea Lucescu has created a team that is extremely compact and fast. Now here is what the Turkish football media misses; you cannot just merely label this team as counter attacking team. Because counter attacking means leaving the initiative to the opponent, but as Shakhtar's dominant friendly game statistics show us, Mircea Lucescu will try to control the game tonight.
What Fenerbahçe could do at this point is a bit of a controversial question right now. If it was up to me, I would not put too much meaning on this game because Fenerbahçe are nowhere near where Shakhtar Donetsk are right now. But it is obvious that Fenerbahçe have not spent their money for a long-term plan and they want success as soon as possible.
Then, ironically, all the counter attacking tactics that the Turkish football media attributes to Shakhtar Donetsk will be represented by Fenerbahçe tonight. The only option for Fenerbahçe right now is to play the most basic form of counter attack and hope that they get lucky. Despite the fact that Shakhtar have lost three crucial players, and the football media claims that Fenerbahçe has better players individually, the Ukrainian side is in a different strategic level. They have spent enough time together to know how to execute the plans of their coach and play together, while Fenerbahçe has in a state of overhaul. Thus, I would not take Fenerbahçe's performance seriously and look forward to building a settled team in the long term.