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29.09.2008 11:48

Donetsk brings back pleasant memories

David Puig

Barça has only played away at Shakhtar Donetsk twice, and though it didn’t win either game the stadium still brings back pleasant memories for a variety of reasons.

Donetsk first helped to get Barça to the legendary Basle final and then made Messi internationally famous. In the 1978/79 season Barça took on Shakhtar in the first round of what was to become its Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in Basle. Twenty-six years Leo Messi made his European debut for Barça in Ukraine.

Messi’s Champions League debut

07-12-04_Web_Messi_01.jpgIn just five days Leo Messi will have played at two grounds which marked key stages in his career. Saturday’s derby with Espanyol took place at the Estadi Lluís Companys, where he made his competitive first team debut for Barça on 16 October 2004. This Wednesday he is set to play at the Donetsk Olympic Stadium where he appeared in his first Champions League game for the Catalan outfit on 7 December in the same year.

In that match Frank Rijkaard used reserve and academy players for the last game in the CL group stages. Barça had already reached the last 16 and only an unlikely victory by Celtic over Milan could have made them first in the group.

Shakhtar won 2-0

07-12-04_Web_banquillo_01.jpgNumerous injuries led Rijkaard to hold back players such as Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto'o. Verdú, Javito and Messi were all in the starting XI while Rodri played in the second half. Out of these four only Messi would continue in the first team. The Argentine played all 90 minutes but was unable to find the net and Barça went down 2-0, while Celtic and Milan played out a goalless draw in Glasgow. Milan went through as leader, Barça as runner-up.

First step towards Basle

Barça’s first game in Donetsk was the second leg of the first round of the 1978/79 Cup Winners’ Cup. The Catalans had won the first leg 3-0 meaning the tie was virtually in the bag. They took no chances in Donetsk and a one-all draw was enough to take them through to the last 16, their goal being scored by Austrian striker Hansi Krankl. It was the first step on the journey to Basle where Barça was to win its first Cup Winners’ Cup in the unforgettable final against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Donetsk brings back pleasant memories
Bigger problems with Dynamo Kiev
Barça’s form with the other big Ukrainian side, Dynamo Kiev, is not quite as impressive as against Shakhtar. In the course of eight games Barça has won four, lost three and drawn one. The Catalans have won twice and lost twice in Kiev. The two sides are equal on goals, with 14 for and 14 against each.

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