Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan will fight for relevance in their Group after opening matchday defeats in their respective games.

Shakhtar Donetsk were expected to fight to finish in the top two of Group D, which comprises Real Madrid and Inter Milan. The Ukrainian outfit were handed a tough group for their liking without a doubt but should have won their opening game against minnows Sherrif, who enter the new matchday as unlikely leaders of the Group.

Domestically, Shakhtar have steadied their ship since their opening matchday defeat to Oleksandriya and have won seven of their eight games. They sit with 22 points after 9 games, trailing Dynamo Kyiv by three points on the table. They also face the league leaders after Inter and hope to get there pn the back of a win.

A result against Inter will solidify their belief of finishing in the top two of Group D. If they are to lose further ground via a draw or defeat, they might be staring at the prospect of playing Europa League football.

Inter Milan are coming off at the back of some difficult period domestically and in Europe. Since Antonio Conte left a well-drilled squad at the hands of Simone Inzaghi, the manager has kept up the enthusiasm in the side, as they started brightly in their Serie A campaign.

However, after leading the charts in Italy after a few matchdays, Inter trail league leaders Napoli by four points and cross-city rivals AC Milan by two. Inzaghi’s side remains unbeaten in the league, but two draws to Sampdoria and Atalanta has seen them descend on the table a bit.

Like Shakhtar, Inter Milan have a task at hand to stay relevant in Group D after their opening matchday loss to Real Madrid. Rodrygo’s 89th-minute winner sealed their fate, although Inzhagi will take confidence from his side’s display at the San Siro against the Spanish giants.

Team News & Tactics

Shakhtar Donetsk

Manager Roberto De Zerbi will likely make plenty of changes to his side after their last league game. There are a few injury concerns, but more importantly, they will be hoping to have key central defender Mykola Matvienko back in the lineup to provide more command in the backline.

In terms of absentees, Fernando and Junior Moraes are both deemed unavailable for this midweek clash, which could open the door for Marlos to take up the wide position in the side. Meanwhile, Maycon, Dodo, Lassina Traore and Ismaily are expected to return to the side.

De Zerbi will retain his more attacking shape for Inter Milan and thwart the visitors three-man defence. Andriy Pyatov will start between the posts, with a back four of Dodo, Marlon Santos, Matvienko and Ismaily. De Zerbi could choose a midfield pairing of Marcos Antonio and Maycon to assert some level of control on proceedings.

Alan Patrick could take up the advanced attacking midfield position with two wide men in Tete and Marlos on either side. Manor Solomon is also on an option instead of Marlos, but it seems the Brazilian might get the nod. Upfront, Traore will lead the line.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dyatov; Dodo, Santos, Matvienko, Ismaily; Antonio, Maycon; Tete, Patrick, Marlos; Traore

Inter Milan

For Simone Inzaghi, there are a few reported absentees in his side, as stars such as Arturo Vidal and Stefano Sensi are set to miss the Champions League clash through injuries.

There are players such as Denzel Dumfries and Matias Vecino pushing hard for starts, and the manager might oblige against Shakhtar. Alternatively, Inzaghi might stick with Darmian at right wing-back and continue the momentum in the side while having the luxury of the Dutchman from the bench.

A back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, and Alessandro Bastoni remain likely starters ahead of Samir Handanovic. Inzaghi will look to keep the shape of his midfield by putting three players in positions. Hakan Calhanoglu, Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic might be those.

Ivan Perisic might be preferred again at left wing-back after playing plenty of times there this season and getting a grip of what the manager wants from that position. Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez will continue their pairing as forwards.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Martinez, Dzeko

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have kept a clean sheet against Shakhtar in their last three meetings.
  • Inter Milan remain undefeated against Shakhtar in their last five games in all competitions.
  • Inter Milan are unbeaten in Serie A this season after six rounds.
  • Inter Milan have only two victories from their last ten group stage games, failing to progress into the next round of the competition in the previous two editions.
  • Shakhtar are on an eight-game unbeaten run domestically in the league after the opening matchday defeat.

Player to Watch

Lautaro Martinez

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Martinez has been part of this Inter Milan squad that has failed to progress out of the group stages in the last two editions of the Champions League. Despite the Argentine being a star performer for Inter in the previous two seasons, winning the Serie A in 2020-21, he needs to step up in Europe this term.

His goals are now more important than ever after Romelu Lukaku’s departure, and he needs to find his rhythm with Dzeko in the final third. He can begin a prolific run in the Champions League against Shakhtar and help his side hang on to the hope of progressing into the next round this season.

Prediction

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2-Inter Milan

Both teams are wounded after the manner of their opening matchday defeat in the Champions League. Of course, Sherrif took everyone by surprise and led the Group; they are expected to fall back as the season progresses, giving both Inter and Shakhtar the chance to claim at least one of the top spots with likely group winners Real Madrid.

It will be an interesting game with both sides likely to play attacking football. Considering Inter’s superior quality of players, the Italians might nick a win against Shakhtar.

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