Lucescu predicting style clash in UEFA Cup final

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu is predicting a clash of styles when his team takes on Werder Bremen in Wednesday's UEFA Cup final.

updated: May 19, 2009 14:38 IST
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Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu is predicting a clash of styles when his team takes on Werder Bremen in Wednesday's UEFA Cup final.

The 63-year-old Romanian coach is preparing his players team for the match in Istanbul _ the last ever UEFA Cup final before its rebranding as the Europa League _ by making sure they are ready to cope with an athletic, speedy side that already knocked out former continental champions AC Milan and Hamburg.

Lucescu said on Tuesday he expected Bremen to try to physically dominate a young Shakhtar side aiming to become the first from Ukraine to hoist the trophy.

"Bremen is the attacking team with very good physique and a lot of really good athletes on their team," Lucescu said. "And as for Shakhtar Donetsk, the style is based on the good technique of the players and, naturally owing to our specific qualities, they will try to exercise control over the progress of the game."

Whether Lucescu can do so will go some way to demonstrating how successfully he has managed to emulate the template of youth, skill and tactical flexibility he established in spells with Dinamo Bucharest, Galatasaray and Besiktas.

There are just three players over 30 years of age in Shakhtar's 25-man squad, which features a quintet of skillful Brazilians, of whom midfielders Fernandinho, Ilsinho and likely substitute Willian average just 22 years of age.

Striker Luiz Adriano should start the game against the German club but Jadson, the oldest of his compatriots at 25, could miss the final because of injury.

But the free kick specialist, who scored and then set up the winning goal in the second leg of the semifinal win over Dynamo Kiev, has not given up hope of recovering. He was rested at the weekend, along with Fernandinho and Ilsinho, for Saturday's 3-0 domestic league win at Zorya.

"He was involved in the general group in training for the last two days and most likely he will appear on the pitch tomorrow," Lucescu said. "As for the lineup, we are going to analyze training. Most likely, we will make the decision just before the game starts."

Bremen has its own problems, with playmaker Diego and Hugo Almeida suspended, and Germany midfielder Per Mertesacker ruled out because of a ligament injury.

"Of course we miss them a great deal because they are important players, but we can't do anything about it," midfielder Torsten Frings said. "We want to take the trophy home for them."

Coach Thomas Schaaf said he had yet to decide how to compensate for the losses, particularly of Almeida and Diego _ who hit a total of 10 goals to help carry Bremen to its first European final since winning the 1992 Cup Winners' Cup.

"I don't even know who is fit and who can actually play, so I'm not even thinking of a formation or a system or a variation," Schaaf said. "Both of them are something special. That's something you can't replace on a one-to-one basis, but we have a good squad and we know we have good quality there."

The choice of Istanbul's Sukru Saracoglu Stadium makes the occasion special for several of the participants.

Shakhtar captain Darjo Srna is desperate to play a key role in Istanbul after Turkey equalized in the last minute before eliminating his Croatia team from last year's European Championship on a penalty shootout.

"I think the whole of Turkey owes me something," said Srna, whose club manager enjoyed success in Istanbul with both Galatasaray and Besiktas.

He led Galatasaray, which had just become the only Turkish club to win a European title with the 2000 UEFA Cup, to the European Super Cup and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. He also hoisted the 2002 Turkish league title before moving across town and doing the same with Besiktas the following season.

And several of his players should feel comfortable in the surroundings of Fenerbahce's ground.

"We played two games against Fenerbahce last season, as if we could have predicted this here," Lucescu said. "Our players will not feel this is too strange for them. They know this stadium well already."

But if Bremen is looking for omens of its own, it may want to consider that Lucescu won just one of his five games at the venue during his four years in Istanbul.