EXCLUSIVE: The World Cup-winning defender has admitted his concern about the Champions League trip to the Ukrainian champions
By Oliver Maywurm
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm says he is worried about the Champions League last-16 first leg at Shakhtar Donetsk – but not because of the conflict in Ukraine.
The eastern city of Donetsk has been the scene of heavy fighting between the domestic army and separatist troops, which Ukraine claims are backed by neighbours Russia.
As a result, Shakhtar’s home matches have been played in Lviv, in the west of Ukraine, though even their temporary hometown has been hit by sporadic outbreaks of violence.
Still, Lahm is not fearful of the security situation in Lviv and believes the only threat posed to Bayern is one on the pitch, particularly from the Brazilian contingent.
“The game has been moved to a more western region of the country and I believe many arrangements have been made so that nothing bad can happen,” the German, who is currently recovering from a fractured ankle, told Goal.
“I am not worried about playing there. We have to achieve a good result in Ukraine but I am not that worried about the game at home.
“Nevertheless we have to be alert because, of course, there are no weak opponents in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“Shakhtar have a good team and they have been working together for quite a long time now. Because of the amount of Brazilian players in the squad, they are especially strong technically. In addition they have good pace.
“In particular I think the away game will be very tough for us.”
Fellow defender Holger Badstuber, who is slowly being eased back into action after two nearly years out with a knee injury, agreed with his skipper that the European elite regulars will not be easy opponents.
“Everyone knows about Shakhtar, they have been a constant team in the Champions League for a long time,” the 25-year-old told Goal.
“So we have been warned and will be very well prepared. We will analyse them carefully.”
Bayern head into their Champions League last-16 first leg against Shakhtar on the back of an 8-0 mauling of Hamburg on Saturday.