19:45 (BST); Tuesday 26th September; Etihad Stadium (Manchester, United Kingdom); BT Sport 3
Pep Guardiola and his free-scoring Manchester City team will be up against Paulo Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk.
After victories in the first group game of the season against Feyenoord and Napoli, both teams will look to get all three points from the game and secure the top spot.
While these teams have never met before, Shakhtar have lost all but one of their matches in England and may have their work cut out against a City side who equalled their biggest win in the Champions League in their first game.
That said, Shakhtar’s recent away form in Europe has been imperious. Both teams head into the game in fine form and given their attacking style of play this one promises to be an absolute cracker.
Last time out
MANCHESTER CITY 5 – 0 Crystal Palace [Premier League]
Manchester City absolutely dismantled a Crystal Palace side who have failed to score in the league since the start of the season as they put five past their opponents without reply for the third consecutive premier league game.
Pep made drastic changes from the Carabao Cup game in midweek against West Brom and it paid dividends as the boys in blue ran the Palace defence ragged.
After a slow start to the game Manchester City finally got their goal after David Silva set up Leroy Sane on the stroke of halftime and from there on the floodgates were opened.
Raheem Sterling scored a brace, Sergio Aguero scored one after being set up by Sane to get one closer to Manchester City’s all-time scoring record and Fabian Delph completed the scoring with an absolute belter from outside the box in the top right corner with his weak foot.
David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were again at the heart of every Manchester City attack as they created chance after chance for the attackers. The defence and goalkeeper were spectators for most of the game.
Zirka Kropyvnytsky 2 – 4 SHAKHTAR DONETSK [Ukrainian Premier League]
The Miners defeated their Ukrainian counterparts by four goals to two. Facundo Ferreyra got the scoring up and running in the 11th minute after he was set up by Taison.
Zirka got one back on the 38th minute when El Hamdaoui headed in after being left unmarked six feet out, but Shakhtar scored two more before the halftime whistle as Marlos and Ferreyra netted in quick succession to give the visitors a 3-1 lead going into the break.
Zirka scored their second because of a counter-attack and Rassadkin was left unmarked in the box this time to score his team’s second of the evening.
Viktor Kovalenko scored the final goal of the game for Shakhtar after coming on from the bench, meaning Shakhtar are two points ahead of their title rivals Dynamo Kyiv having played a game more, however.
Manchester City Lineup
City are expected to start with a 4-3-3 formation and changes aren’t expected from the game against Palace. Ederson will start in between the sticks with Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Danilo forming the defence.
Fernandinho will continue to sit in front of the defence and break up the opposition’s play and start City’s attacks with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva starting in their number eight roles.
One from Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane might be dropped to bring in Gabriel Jesus. Sergio Aguero will lead the line for the Sky Blues. Vincent Kompany, Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy are doubtful for the game as the trio recovers from injuries.
Shakhtar Donetsk Lineup
The Miners will start the game in a 4-3-3 formation. The experienced Pyatov will start in goal with Butko, Rakitskiy, Ordets and Ismaily starting in defence.
Stepanenko will play a Fernandinho like role for his team as Fred and Bernard are expected to be either side of him in the midfield.
Taison and Marlos will occupy the flanks and Ferreyra will be the lone striker for the night. Shakhtar will be without their leader and most important player, Darijo Srna, due to a doping allegation.
Key Battle: Sergio Aguero vs Bernard
Sergio Aguero will look to become City’s highest goalscorer and he, along with his partner in crime Gabriel Jesus, will be the biggest threats to Shakhtar’s defence.
The South Americans will look to keep up their impressive start to the season and inflict maximum damage to Shakhtar.
Bernard, the tiny midfield magician has undergone a real renaissance under head coach Paulo Fonseca, so that he now looks like the player many top European clubs tried to sign back in 2013.
Other than him, the two wingers Taison and Marlos are also dangerous. Both are very fast and often interchange positions to stretch the opposition’s defence.
City at the Etihad
City are unbeaten in their last ten home matches in the Champions League (W7 D3), qualifying included, since a 2-1 defeat by Juventus in Week 1 of 2015/16. That Juve loss was their fourth in six fixtures at the Etihad Stadium, with only one win in that run.
However, Guardiola’s men took seven points at home in last season’s group stage, beating Borussia Mönchengladbach (4-0) and Barcelona (3-1) before a 1-1 draw with Celtic.
It showed that they have a newfound level of know-how in European football, with the Spaniard imparting his wisdom on how to win games at home.
Tuesday’s game is no different, and it’s the sort of fixture City should win without too many issues, although Shakhtar are no pushovers.
Shakhtar’s English record
Although Shakhtar are unbeaten away from home against English opposition, the Ukrainian champions have lost on five of their six trips to England, avoiding defeat only on their second visit, a 1-1 draw at Tottenham in their victorious 2008/09 UEFA Cup campaign.
In those five defeats, Shakhtar scored six goals and conceded 14, including a 5-1 loss at Arsenal in the 2010/11 group stage.
Their most recent English assignment was a 1-0 reverse at Manchester United in 2013/14. The question is, though, whether they’ve learned from their mistakes of the past.
PREDICTION: Manchester City 3-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar’s head coach Paulo Fonseca plays attacking football and the club’s philosophy is entirely built on the idea that attack is the best form of defence. So, I think they’ll go out intending to surprise City, but this tactic has either worked fantastically for them in the past or massively backfired.
As a club, they have an enormous amount of confidence and I am sure the players will feel that they can get a result in Manchester, but as Benjamin Mendy says “Manchester City are the big shark, when teams try to swim with us we gobble them up.”
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