Bayern Munich will play Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash on Tuesday. But with the world watching on as war-torn Ukraine continues to be ripped apart by pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian army, Shakthar continue to play.
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The game will not be played in Donetsk’s Donbass Arena, as the entire city is under the control of pro-Russian rebels.
Bayern will instead travel 750 miles away from Donetsk to play against Shakthar in Lviv, but Thomas Muller shared his shock at what’s going on in Ukraine.
“It’s hard to grasp and (it is) a unique experience to be playing against a team that is based in a crisis area,” Muller said. “Somehow, it’s a surreal situation. You know there is this terrible war out there, but you don’t really realize it because you don’t really know such a situation personally.”
Pep Guardiola’s reigning German champions are the heavy favorites as their opponents have not played a match in over two months due to the winter break in Ukraine’s top-flight. But after Shakthar have essentially been made refugees in their own nation, Bayern should be expecting a fired up squad ready to battle for the people of their beleaguered region.
It is a truly unique situation as the stadium in Lviv will be full, but only with locals excited to watch the UCL instead of supporting Shakthar and Donetsk have just one UCL win in their adopted home. Although Lviv has been largely untouched by the war breaking out in the east of Ukraine, there have been sporadic outbursts from time to time.
UEFA are confident that there will no issues surrounding Tuesday’s game, but Bayern seem uneasy about the prospect of heading to a war torn country.