x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tantalising tie lies ahead if Fulham progress

If they can progress from their last-32 tie with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League, they will face either Ajax or Juventus.

Roy Hodgson is not one to get carried away by hyperbole or the lofty expectations of Fulham fans. After his side claimed a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last Sunday, he remained level-headed and cautious about the chances of a first major trophy in the club's 131-year history. He will adopt the same approach to the Europa League, too. If they can progress from their last-32 tie with Shakhtar Donetsk, they will face either Ajax or Juventus.

With those possible challenges ahead, the London side will be underdogs to make it to the latter stages of the tournament. For all of Fulham's strengths, they do not have the resources of tonight's opponents - who are financed by Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Europe - and cannot afford injuries to key players like Bobby Zamora, who has scored 13 goals this season. Teammate Nicky Shorey said of the striker: "It's nice to see him getting the credit he deserves. He's a big target man, but he can do the lot."

Despite Shakhtar's array of talent such as Jadson and Fernandinho, their Brazilians duo, Dickson Etuhu, the Fulham midfielder, said they did not fear their opponents. "You shouldn't forget that we face some of the best players and best teams in the world every week in the Premier League - and teams don't get much bigger than Manchester United and Chelsea do they?" he said. "It's a big game, but we have shown in the past that we are more than a match for anyone."

Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk, 12.05am, Aljazeera Sport +6