DONETSK, Ukraine, March 7, 2011 (AFP) - Shakhtar Donetsk will be out to enhance their reputation as one of the coming forces in European football here on Tuesday by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time at the expense of AS Roma.
Shakhtar have already made their own piece of national history in becoming the first Ukrainian side to win European silverware in lifting the last UEFA Cup trophy in 2009 and their wily Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu is eyeing another famous scalp.
The odds of that happening are firmly in Shakhtar's favour as they pulled off a remarkable 3-2 win in Rome in the dying days of previous coach Claudio Ranieri's regime and are unbeaten in European competition at home since losing to Sporting Lisbon on October 22, 2008.
Lucescu, who has a good knowledge of Italian football having coached Brescia, Reggiana and Inter Milan, saw his side grab a last gasp 1-0 league win over Sevastopol to stay top of their championship.
However, the 65-year-old coach said they would have to improve considerably from that performance to assure themselves of safe passage to the last eight.
"Some of my players were too relaxed during the match," said Lucescu.
"But on Tuesday it will be a completely different match.
"Roma will not sit in defence as they desperately need to score. But we will also be very motivated. This match and the prize it offers is one we have been waiting for for so long."
Lucescu should be able to call on his legion of Brazilians including the match winner against Sevastopol Luiz Adriano, who also scored against Roma.
Long term absentee Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho is not ready to return, however, as he is still recovering from the broken leg he suffered in September.
Roma, though, have regrouped under rookie coach Vincenzo Montella as the former player known as the 'Aeroplane' for his goal celebrations has guided them to two wins and a draw in the three matches he has taken charge of.
The 36-year-old former Italian international - scorer of 118 goals in 215 matches for Roma - is keen to show that he is not simply keeping the hotseat warm for another former Roma favourite Carlo Ancellotti should he either leave or be removed from the Chelsea job at the end of the season.
Montella, who will be looking to his best friend and another Roma legend Totti to produce the goods on Tuesday, has received the thumbs up from the Roma directors.
"We are happy at the start made under our new coach and how the players are performing," said Roma director Gian Paolo Montali.
"We have a superb strategist in charge and he has already made his mark and had a positive impression and impact on the players."