Castro: ‘Roma can win Europa League’

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Luis Castro admits Paulo Fonseca left ‘big shoes to fill’ and Roma are ‘one of the candidates to win the Europa League this season.’

The first leg of the Europa League Round of 16 is at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday at 20.00 GMT.

It is a blast from the past for Roma coach Fonseca, who was on the Shakhtar bench from 2016-19 before moving to Italy.

“Fonseca left a fantastic group of players and it is also thanks to him that everything runs so smoothly here,” said Castro in a press conference.

“He won a great deal here and it was difficult to replace him, he left big shoes to fill. We know how Roma will approach it tactically, but not what is in their minds. Fonseca has a big advantage in that respect, because he does know how our players behave.

“I am convinced we can win anywhere and against anyone. The important thing is the attitude we have on the field.”

Shakhtar Donetsk have already impressed against Italian opposition this season, pushing Inter into last place in their Champions League group and with a shock win over Real Madrid.

Fonseca has changed from his Shakhtar days and even when he first started at Roma, moving to three at the back.

“I personally think the tactics are not as important as the way the players approach a game. We’ll try to change the way that spaces open up so we can attack our opponents effectively. We could change our tactical plans, or stick with what we’ve always done,” continued Castro.

“It’ll be fundamental that we score an away goal tomorrow, but also try not to concede. Qualification is played over two legs and we must above all be disciplined tomorrow.

“We know full well that we are up against one of the best teams, one of the candidates to win the Europa League this season. We must play our game.”

Shakhtar Donetsk will have one rather big advantage in the second leg, as they’ll have fans allowed in the stadium.

“Their presence is very important and we play for them.”

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