Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City Preview, team news, match details, prediction and more | UEFA Champions League 2019/2020
After a four-month hiatus, the biggest club competition in the world of football is upon us, as 32 elite European clubs battle it out for honours in the Champions League.
Manchester City will kick off proceedings in Group C when they travel to Ukraine to take on Shakhtar Donetsk in what would be the third consecutive season that both sides are facing one another in the group stage of the Champions League.
The Cityzens have conquered all before them domestically and set unprecedented records en route their clean sweep of all available trophies before them last season, but the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle has been the Champions League, and for all of their efforts and brilliance, Manchester City are yet to get their hands on the big prize.
This is an anomaly they would be keen to rectify, and Guardiola's men would want to kickstart their European campaign this term with a victory.
However, they would be coming up against a Shakhtar side who are no shrinking violets themselves and have more than what it takes to pull off an upset against the English champions.
The Miners are defending double winners in Ukraine, having won both the Ukrainian Premier League and Cup last season, and considering the long-distance involved in getting to Eastern Europe from England, fatigue could factor in for Manchester City while the atmosphere at the Metallist Stadium is legendary, hence City would have to put their best foot forward.
Date - Wednesday, 18, September 2019
Time - 10:00 pm EEST (Local time), 7:00 pm (GMT), 8:00 pm (WAT), 12:30 am (IST)
Venue - Metallist Stadium, Kharkiv
Pep Guardiola was left counting his losses after star defender Aymeric Laporte pulled up with a long-term knee injury, and in his absence, neither John Stones nor Nico Otamendi managed to cover themselves in glory.
Apart from the 25-year-old, the only other injury concern for the Catalan is the long-term sidelined Leroy Sane.
On his part, Shakhtar head coach Luis Castro has far more worrying injury concerns, as no fewer than five of his first-team players are currently sidelined, with midfielder Andrii Totovytskyi being the pick of the bunch.
As indicated earlier, Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk would be meeting in the Champions League group stage for the third consecutive season, and the English side have the advantage, having triumphed in three of their four clashes, with the only loss coming in a 2-1 away defeat back in December 2017.
Total matches played - 4
Manchester City wins - 3
Shakhtar Donetsk wins - 1
Players to watch
Shakhtar Donetsk - Junior Moraes
Junior Moraes is a Brazilian-born Ukrainian international who plays for Shakhtar Donetsk as a centre-forward.
Having spent most of his career as a journeyman across different countries, the 32-year-old arrived at Shakhtar in the summer of 2018 and exploded to life, with his 26 goals in all competitions last season helping the club to win a domestic double.
He has continued from where he left off this season, scoring seven goals from his first seven league matches to help Shakhtar maintain their position at the summit of the table having started with a 100% record.
Manchester City - Kevin de Bruyne
Kevin de Bruyne is a bonafide world-class player and is unarguably the best playmaker in the world bar Messi.
The 28-year-old is blessed with a vision far above anyone else, and his range and precision of passing are second to none.
De Bruyne famously out-assisted everybody in Europe's top five leagues between 2013 and 2018, and after missing a significant chunk of last season due to injury, the Belgian international is back to doing what he does best and currently sits top of the assist table in the Premier League with five assists from five matches, while he also grabbed four (including three in one match) while on international duty with Belgium.
The former Chelsea man is the fulcrum through which Guardiola's slick possession play is built upon, and his importance was highlighted in the fact that The Cityzens lost to Norwich when he was rested from the start over the weekend.
De Bruyne would likely be back to pulling the strings against Shakhtar, and if he hits top gear, there could be no stopping him.
Shakhtar Donetsk have been nothing short of exceptional in their start to their league title defence, winning all seven fixtures so far in the season, while they can count on vociferous home support to push them to victory.
However, Manchester City would be smarting from their shock 3-2 reversal to Norwich City over the weekend and would be seeking to get back to winning ways against their Ukrainian rivals.
History favours the English side, as they have won three of their four fixtures, winning both legs last season by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0.
Though Manchester City would have to be wary of the danger posed by Shakhtar at home, Guardiola's men have far superior firepower across all facets of their team and would ultimately prevail.
Score prediction - Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Manchester City
Shakhtar Donestk to win -
Draw - 5.60
Manchester City to win - 1.33
Bookmaker - Bet9ja