The Blues return to Champions League action tonight in Donetsk and Juan Mata, who spent time in the city during Euro 2012, will be hoping his club side can emulate the achievements of his national team in the Donbass Arena.
Mata was part of the Spain squad who recorded an incredible third successive major tournament success over the summer, ruthlessly taking apart Italy 4-0 in the final, a game when the Chelsea playmaker came off the bench to score and put the seal on their triumph.
It was the two games preceding the showpiece, however, that the 24-year-old will be thinking of when Chelsea arrive later this evening for the game, as our opponents’ home ground played host to both Spain’s quarter-final and semi-final victories, against France and Portugal respectively.
‘We also spent two days at their training complex as well,’ Mata tells the official Chelsea website.
‘The Donbass Arena is a fantastic stadium, very modern, and I’m looking forward to playing, hopefully we will have a similar result to the ones Spain had.’
After beginning the defence of our crown with a 2-2 home draw against Juventus, a 4-0 away win against FC Nordsjaelland ensures we head into the game top of the group.
With Shakhtar having followed a 2-0 win against the Danes with a credible 1-1 draw in Italy, the home side will be full of confidence, and Mata believes we will need to be at our very best in order to return to London with all three points.
‘As a team, Shakhtar are improving all the time, particularly by signing Brazilian players,’ he says.
‘Paco [Biosca], our club doctor, came here from Shakhtar and he’s been telling us all about them. He said they are a very good team and the club has a great structure.
‘The supporters are very passionate about their team and, as a country, the Ukrainians love their football.’
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