Luiz Adriano eyes Champions League record
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — While Lionel Messi tries to break the Champions League’s all-time scoring mark on Tuesday, another record could fall when Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano faces Athletic Bilbao.
The Brazilian is having a breakout European campaign and has Shakhtar on the cusp of qualifying for the second round for the third time in five seasons despite the turmoil in Ukraine.
A win by Shakhtar will put the Ukrainian champions through from Group H, along with the already qualified FC Porto, which visits BATE in Belarus.
Here are some things to know about Tuesday’s matches:
RECORD TO FALL
Luiz Adriano has already matched the feats previously reached only by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He has scored nine goals through the first four matches, equaling the record set for group goals by Ronaldo.
Luiz Adriano also matched Messi’s single-game milestone by scoring five times against BATE last month.
The 27-year-old Brazilian will face a Bilbao defense that held his team to a 0-0 draw in their first meeting this season.
Shakhtar continues to play its home matches in the western city of Lviv because of ongoing political and military strife in Ukraine, and the strain is beginning to show.
Shakhtar left its Donbass Arena located in the city of Donetsk, now controlled by pro-Russian rebels, last spring. The stadium has since been damaged by shelling.
But its relations with host club Karpaty Lviv have deteriorated as well.
Over the weekend, the two clubs played each other and Karpaty demanded both squads wear warm-up shirts with a message of support for the Ukrainian army. Shakhtar, being from the east, branded this “a pure provocation” that would alienate its fans, and refused. At Shakhtar’s last Champions League game, a banner was briefly displayed by locals demanding the club leave Lviv.
But Shakhtar midfielder Dentinho said Lviv is a welcoming host.
“In this match the support will be on our side,” Dentinho said. “We, of course, are missing our Donbass Arena. But now our home stadium is in Lviv, and the people are rooting for us here.”
FC Porto is looking to Jackson Martinez and Yacine Brahimi to serve up another big win against BATE, after thrashing the Belarus side 6-0 in Portugal.
Brahimi has seven goals in all competitions this season, while Martinez has 13.
AP Writers Barry Hatton in Lisbon and James Ellingworth in Moscow contributed to this report.