Premier League and Champions League leaders Manchester City are back in action on Tuesday night with their European home opener as the Blues welcome Shakhtar Donetsk to the Etihad for the second match of Group F.
The Blues confirmed their status as favorites in the first Champions League game with a 4-0 victory away to Feyenoord, and they now play at home against the other winner from this group. That’s right, Shakhtar beat the other group favorites, Serie A leaders Napoli, and showed that they must be taken seriously by City fans and players.
Pep Guardiola made an excellent point in his pre-match press conference: Shakhtar are not a bad team just because nobody cares about Ukrainian football. This is a very capable side who not only can but will cause City problems on Tuesday, and fans cannot come to the Etihad expecting another 5-0 thrashing. It might happen, but this isn’t an easy game on paper and it probably won’t be on the pitch.
Shakhtar have four very good Brazilian players, two of those internationals, and they have threats on the ground and in the air. They won’t come to the Etihad just looking to sit deep and defend for the whole game; Shakhtar will attack, and the City defense will need to work hard to keep a clean sheet.
The City attack is simply on fire right now and the Blues will probably score goals, but they can concede too. It won’t be a major shock if Shakhtar get a point at the Etihad, but City are favorites and should show their strength and impose their style. But they have to take it seriously.
MATCH INFO, TV/STREAMING
Date/Time: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 7:45pm (UK & Nigeria), 2:45pm ET, 11:45am PT (USA), 12:15am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Television: BT Sport 3 (UK), Fox Soccer Plus (USA), SuperSport 2 (Africa), SONY TEN 3 (India)
Online streaming: BT Sport Live Streaming (UK), Fox Soccer Match Pass (USA), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
Pep Guardiola ruled out Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan for this match, but there’s a chance Benjamin Mendy gets to play as he’ll have a test prior to the game. If the Frenchman isn’t fit to start, Danilo and Fabian Delph will be hoping to get a shot at left-back, with the Brazilian most likely to be chosen.
As for the rest of the team, Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva are expected to replace Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané as the two wide men that will provide attacking support to Sergio Agüero. We should see pretty much the same team that won at Feyenoord, with the only possible change at left-back depending on Mendy’s status.
Manchester City (4-3-3)
Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Bernardo, Agüero, Jesus
Shakhtar Donetsk (4-2-3-1)
Pyatov; Butko, Ordets, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Fred, Stepanenko; Marlos, Taison, Bernard; Ferreyra
Shakhtar will make this game a lot harder than people think, but City are just too good right now: 3-1 to the Blues.