Ukraine's Shakhtar Has A Brazilian Flair

DONETSK, Ukraine -- Ukrainian soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk's run to the quarterfinals of the Champions League has been described as the emergence of a rising power and a triumph for its billionaire owner Rinat Akhmetov.

As the team prepares to face Barcelona on Wednesday, there may be one factor that has been key to the team's success. "I think that at the moment Shakhtar is the most Brazilian team in Europe," says Mircea Lucescu, the head coach.

Thirteen Brazilians have worn Shakhtar's orange and black in the past six years, with eight on the current roster.

The team's policy is simple enough: Its defense is mostly made up of robust Eastern Europeans; its midfield and attack is from Brazil.

Which means it functions a bit like a Honda bolted on to a Ferrari. "The Brazilian players bring the color into our game," said Razvan Rat, the fullback.

The effectiveness of the plan is hard to dispute: Shakhtar won the UEFA Cup in 2009 and is the first Ukrainian team to reach the Champions League quarterfinals in more than a decade.

Source: The Wall Street Journal