Ukrainian Draw

Darkness of War, Lightness of Soccer

bayern munich-getty pictures
Bayern Munich struggled to find its game in Ukraine's Lviv stadium.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A soccer game lifted the spirits, if only briefly, of a nation battling for unity.

  • Facts


    • Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayer Munich tied 0-0 in a Champions League game.
    • The game was played in Lviv in western Ukraine and not on Shakhtar Donetsk’s home turf in the east.
    • Shakhtar’s stadium, Donbass Arena, has been hit multiple times in the fighting.
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At times, Bayern Munich players could have believed they were competing in a match between national teams – and not a Champions League tournament game between Europe’s top clubs.

The packed 39,000-seat stadium in Lviv was full of banners in the Ukrainian national colors. Ukrainian fans frequently bellowed “U-kra-i-na” in harmony, and even once, they stood and sang the national anthem.

This was not a typical Champions League game by any standards.

First the score: Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern Munich tied 0-0. That, in itself, is a victory for the Ukrainian club, which hasn’t played in its own stadium in war-torn eastern Ukraine since July, hadn’t played a competitive game since December and was forced on Tuesday to play in Lviv, hundreds of miles from its home turf.

Add to that the fact that Shakhtar drew a tie against a club that is one of the best in the world.

Bayern Munich, which won the Champions League two years ago, pulverized Hamburg 8-0 in a Bundesliga match last week. It leads the Bundesliga with 52 points, ahead of its nearest competitor VfL Wolfsburg with 44. If the club lacks anything, it’s not self-confidence.

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