The Etihad Stadium will host the first ever encounter between Manchester City and Ukrainian League champions Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League.
Manchester City are going into this tie in hot form, winning 7 of their first 8 games this season and drawing one. They got their Champions League journey to a fantastic start with a resounding 4-0 thrashing of Feyenoord at the Stadion Feijenoord a fortnight ago.
Shakhtar have also been in great form this season, winning all but 2 of their 12 games this season. They managed a surprise 2-1 victory against Napoli in their first Group F tie at the OSK Metalist Arena and will be looking to pull off another big upset tonight.
Pep Guardiola will be without the services of Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany for this tie while Benjamin Mendy will be subject to a late fitness test. City have experimented with a number of formations already this season, often switching between a 3 or a 4 man defence.
Danilo will likely come into the squad at left back if Mendy isn’t deemed fit enough to play while Nicolas Otamendi, John Stone and Kyle Walker retain their places in the starting lineup. Fernandinho should act as the sole defensive midfielder while Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling are expected to make way for Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva.
David and Bernardo Silva are expected to take their place on the left and right flanks respectively with De Bruyne in the middle, just in behind Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero. Sane and Sterling are also likely to feature as the game goes on, even if they don’t feature from the very beginning.
Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Ederson; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Danilo; Fernandinho; Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva; Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus
Paulo Fonseca will be without the services of Captain Darijo Srna, who is currently embroiled in a doping scandal after he tested positive for a banned substance. Besides Srna, midfielder Maksim Malyshev and centerback Sergey Krivtsov, Shakhtar have no injuries or suspensions.
Fonseca is expected to stick to a more defensive 4-2-3-1 formation for this tie. Andriy Pyatov is expected to play his 50th game in Champions League tonight and Ismaily, Rakitsky, Ordets will likely make up the defence, with Bogdan Butko stepping in for captain Darijo Srna at right-back.
Taras Stepanenko and Fred are expected to act as the holding midfielders. The Brazilian trio of Bernard, Taison and Marlos will be deployed ahead of them, in more attacking roles, with the Argentine Facundo Ferreyra expected to lead the line from the start at the Etihad.
Predicted Starting XI(4-2-3-1): Andriy Pyatov; Bogdan Butko, Ivan Ordets, Yaroslav Rakitsky, Ismaily; Fred, Taras Stepanenko; Marlos, Taison, Bernard; Facundo Ferreyra
- Shakhtar Donetsk have lost all 4 of the UEFA Champions League matches they have played in England.
- Manchester City have not lost a home game in the Champions League since September 2015, winning 6 and drawing 3 in that time.
- Shakhtar Donetsk have conceded 14 goals in their past 4 UEFA Champions League away games.
- Manchester City have played 37 games in the UEFA Champions League, none of which have ended goal-less.
- Manchester City have conceded only 3 goals in 8 games in all competitions this term, scoring 27.
Player To Watch
Aguero has started this season on fire for City, scoring 7 goals and providing 3 assists in 7 appearances across all competitions. Gabriel Jesus’s return put his place in the starting XI in doubt, but he seems to have struck up a fantastic partnership with the Brazilian already this season.
Aguero now have a total of 176 goals and 54 assists in 260 appearances across all competitions. He is now only 2 goals away from becoming the club’s record goal scorer and given the form that he’s in, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to expect City to have a now all time top scorer come the end of the night.
Ferreyra has continued his good form from the previous season onto this one, scoring 8 goals and providing 3 assists in 12 games across all competitions this season. The Argentine, who once spent an ill-fated season on loan at Newcastle, seems to have rediscovered his goalscoring touch.
He is just coming off of scoring a brace against Zirka Kropyvnytsky and while most of the attention will be on his far more illustrious and experienced compatriot leading the line for his opponents tonight, it will be interesting to see how the 26-year-old copes against world class opposition.
Manchester City 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Despite Pep Guardiola’s public warning to his team to not underestimate their opponents, it is difficult to see the visitors coming out of this tie victorious when they come up against a clinical and rampant City side who are yet to suffer defeat this season.
The Ukrainian Champions will be buoyed by their victory against Napoli a fortnight ago and will be wary of all the pressure resting on the Citizens. It remains to be seen though, how captain Darijo Srna’s recent doping scandal has affected the dressing room and the confidence.
Paulo Fonseca has some undoubtedly talented players in the form of Taison and Ferreyra who are capable of moments of magic, but City just have far too much quality in their ranks and while another tennis score like rout is unlikely, we can expect no mercy from Guardiola’s boys when the Miners visit the Etihad.