Manchester City make their trip to Ukraine to take on Shakhtar Donetsk for their third group stage game as Pep Guardiola’s men look to take control of their group.
Shakhtar Donetsk are in a rich goalscoring form in the Champions League although the Ukrainian side has also conceded the same amount of goals they have scored so far. Shakhtar prepares to host Premier League Champions Manchester City in their Champions League group stage game as the Ukrainian side looks for its first win of the competition this season.
Shakhtar have so far played out two entertaining draws in their first two group games. First, it was Hoffenheim against who the game ended 2-2 and then against Lyon in their second game, Shakhtar blew a two-goal lead in the last 20-minutes of the game to finish with another 2-2 draw. That leaves Shakhtar with only two points from their opening two games, and desperate to record their first win.
Manchester City will be relieved to have recorded their first win in the competition away at Hoffenheim during the last matchday. They, however, had to come from a goal down, after Hoffenheim scored in the first minute of the game to beat them, courtesy of a late David Silva goal, three minutes before the 90th-minute mark.
That win leaves City with three points and they sit second in their group below Lyon who are on top with four points. City will look to exploit the defensive frailties in this Shakhtar side and ensure they are well placed on the table before the Ukrainians visit the Etihad during the next matchday.
Team News & Tactics
Shakhtar do not have many injury concerns or suspensions for the Man City game, but the Ukrainian side are likely to miss their captain Taison. The Brazilian injured his knee during the 1-1 draw with Zorya Luhansk on October 7 and thus remains doubtful for the City clash.
Fernando could be the man to replace Taison in midfield as the Brazilian could be raring to face Manchester City. Otherwise, Shakhtar does not have many problems and will field a full-strength squad. The Ukrainian side will be heavily reliant on striker Junior Moraes, who has scored 12 goals already in 15 games this season.
Barring Moares, Shakhtar will field the likes of Kricstov and Rakitskiy as their central defencers with Maycon and Srepanenko taking the central midfield berths. Marlos, Patric and Taison have been the regular providers for Moraes, but Taison’s place in attacking midfield could be taken by Fernando.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Matvyenko, Krivstov, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Maycon, Stepanenko; Marlos, Patrick, Fernando; Moraes
Pep Guardiola had the Shakhtar game on his mind when making team selections against their weekend opponents, Burnley. Guardiola did not play Raheem Sterling against Burnley meaning the forward would start against Shakhtar. Sterling will probably take Leroy Sane’s place after the German played out a full 90 minutes against Burnley.
The big news for City is the return to action of Kevin De Bruyne, who has been out since August with a knee injury. However, for Guardiola’s side, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan and Danilo remain doubtful, meaning Guardiola could go with a similar side that faced Burnley only with a few changes.
Ederson will continue in goal for a lack of quality back up options and will be covered by a defence possibly with Kyle Walker, as he still could make the game despite the doubtful tag, Otamendi, Laporte and Mendy. De Bruyne could start alongside David Silva and Fernandinho, with Mahrez, Sterling and Aguero as City’s front three.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, D.Silva; Mahrez, Sterling, Aguero
- This will be the third time both teams face each other after also meeting in last season’s Champions League group stages, both winning their respective home ties.
- Shakhtar have never lost at home to English opposition in a European competition.
- Shakhtar have at least scored twice in each of their last seven Champions League games, losing just once in the process.
- Man City have failed to score in only one of their last 15 Champions League games, a 0-4 defeat to Barcelona in October 2016.
- 17 of the last 19 goals for Shakhtar have come from South American players in their side.
Player To Watch
Since moving to Manchester City in the summer in a club record deal Mahrez hasn’t exactly brought his form from Leicester to his new side. Much was expected from the electric forward after his move, but so far he has shown mixed displays. During some of the games he has played he’s been able to stamp his authority, showing flashes of his talent from his previous team, but he really needs to make a mark now.
Mahrez needs the Champions League arena to be the place where he can make a mark on the team. He still has four group stage games to at least convince Guardiola a bit more of him and give him a regular place in the side in the competition. However, Mahrez has the quality in him to show what he can do and turn games on its head, something he would hope the Shakhtar game would be the beginning point.
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Manchester City
It’s not to say the results could not go to either of the teams. The predictions are considering the form and history of both the sides in the competition. Shakhtar have not lost to English opposition at home and they don’t seem like a team that would start now. The Ukrainian side have been leaky in the Champions League, but domestically they have been astute in defence, something they hope to display against City.
City do have the quality to beat Shakhtar, and they might just get all three points, but the pressure of such an away game might benefit Shakhtar. The Ukrainians may not beat them, but possess the quality to hold off Guardiola’s men for a result.