Guardiola: Shakhtar are one of Europe's best

The Bayern boss remembers the tough challenge the Ukraine giants posed his Barcelona side and says Xabi Alonso could be fit to play

Pep Guardiola believes Mircea Lucescu has turned Shakhtar Donetsk into one of Europe’s very best teams as he prepares his Bayern Munich side to face the Ukrainian side.

Shakhtar, who have won the league title in each of the last five years, impressed in the group stages of the Champions League this term and boast the tournament’s top scorer in Luiz Adriano.

Guardiola, who faced the 2009 Uefa Cup winners a number of times as head coach of Barcelona, admits the vastly experienced Lucescu has formed a formidable side in recent years.

“I respect Shakhtar and their coach Mircea Lucescu very much,” he told reporters ahead of Bayern’s clash with Shakhtar in Lviv.

“He is a very smart coach who has created one of the best teams in Europe. I played against Shakhtar five times with Barcelona and although we had a really amazing squad it was always so difficult. You may remember the Uefa Super Cup match when we scored only in extra-time. Once, they defeated us at home in the 2008-09 Champions League.”

Fitness doubts emerged over Xabi Alonso after he was forced to miss the 8-0 hammering of Hamburg at the weekend, and Guardiola says he will wait until the last moment before making a decision on whether to play the Spaniard.

“Xabi Alonso trained well yesterday and today but his fitness is still open to question. We’ll make a decision tomorrow,” he said.