The first European match of the season at the Etihad Stadium takes place this Tuesday when Manchester City welcome Shakhtar Donetsk for the second match of this Champions League group stage.
The Blues remain unbeaten this season and look absolutely on fire right now, scoring a lot of goals and demolishing teams left and right. This has happened despite Pep Guardiola making constant changes to his starting lineups, and that should again be the case against Shakhtar.
Let’s see which changes Pep could make on Tuesday night, as well as taking a look at Shakhtar’s potential lineup.
With a very dangerous Shakhtar side coming to the Etihad, Guardiola will most likely look to control this game as much as possible, which means Bernardo Silva is likely to come in on the right wing, move centrally into midfield and help Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva control the match.
Gabriel Jesus will surely return to the starting lineup having been rested against Crystal Palace, so we’ll probably see Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling dropping to the bench, which shows just how ridiculous the squad depth at City is right now, especially offensively.
At the back four, the only change should be Danilo in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Mendy should be back against Chelsea and would definitely play against Shakhtar if this was a truly key match, but early in the season it makes sense to rest him and Danilo is more than capable. Fabian Delph has played left-back in recent games and there’s a chance he starts, but Danilo is the favorite.
All in all, expect a very similar lineup to the one that destroyed Feyenoord two weeks ago in an effort to keep a lot of possession and trust both Jesus and Agüero to play together and provide the goals.
Predicted XI: Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Bernardo, Agüero, Jesus
As Pep Guardiola rightly said in his pre-match press conference, nobody cares about Ukrainian football and therefore they don’t think very highly of Shakhtar Donetsk, but anyone imagining an easy night for City is badly mistaken. Their midfield is especially strong, with two Brazilian internationals (Fred and Taison) and two other Brazilians full of flair, skill and quickness (Marlos and Bernard).
Up front, Facundo Ferreyra will be a very dangerous aerial threat and demands a lot of attention from the Blues’ defense. Without captain Darijo Srna, who’s decided to step away from the game after testing positive for a out-of-competition drug test, Bogdan Butko will start at right-back as the only likely change from the team that surprisingly beat Napoli two weeks ago.
Predicted XI: Pyatov; Butko, Ordets, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Fred, Stepanenko; Marlos, Taison, Bernard; Ferreyra
Man City: Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho; Silva, De Bruyne, Sané; Jesus, Agüero
Shakhtar: Pyatov; Butko, Ordets, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Fred, Stepanenko; Marlos, Taison, Bernard; Ferreyra