Manchester City will expect to take a further step towards qualifying for the Champions League knockout rounds with victory at home to Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad on Wednesday (20:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Man City come into the fourth matchday as the leaders in Group F after recovering from their opening loss at home to Lyon with consecutive wins away to Hoffenheim and Shakhtar. Their opponents this week are bottom of the group, with two points from a pair of draws.
As noted, it was City who emerged victorious when the two sides met in Shakhtar’s temporary home in Kharkiv a couple of weeks back. Shakhtar had their moments and it was certainly not an entirely one-sided encounter yet first-half goals from David Silva and Aymeric Laporte and another in the second from Bernardo Silva gave City a 3-0 win.
Pep Guardiola’s side have followed that triumph with a further three victories in domestic competition, the latest of which was a 6-1 thrashing of Southampton on Sunday. Two goals from Raheem Sterling, one each for Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Leroy Sane, and an own goal saw them to a dominant victory. With Liverpool dropping a pair of points, it was a result that saw Man City become the undisputed leaders of the Premier League.
It has been a very strong start to the season, with 13 wins, two draws and one defeat in their opening 15 matches in all competitions. It would be a relentless pace to maintain but the fact that they have achieved it despite limited participation from the oft-injured Kevin de Bruyne, one of their key players last season, suggests that City might just be capable of it.
Securing back-to-back Premier League titles certainly looks achievable, but it is in the Champions League that the club are really keen to make a splash this season. They were disappointed to go out to Liverpool in last season’s quarter final. With some of the traditional powers of European football, including reigning three-time winners Real Madrid, struggling a bit for form, they will fancy their chances of a longer run this time out.
A win on Wednesday would position them well to advance to the last 16 ahead of their final couple of matches away to Lyon and at home to Hoffenheim. While they are likely to achieve it, City shouldn’t expect it to be especially easy against a Shakhtar side who have managed to make their life relatively uncomfortable in recent encounters.
As mentioned, Paulo Fonseca’s side were better than the scoreline suggested in the reverse fixture a couple of weeks back. They were also competitive against City in last season’s competition, going down 2-0 at the Etihad but then winning 2-1 on home soil. They have seemed to do a better job of creating openings than many of Man City’s domestic opponents.
Shakhtar also travel to Manchester in a confident mood after opening up a commanding lead atop the Ukrainian Premier League table with a 2-1 win at home to primary rivals Dynamo Kiev on Saturday. They went behind just before half-time, only for Junior Moraes to equalise early into the second period and Victor Kovalenko to fire home a spectacular injury time winner to open up a eight point difference between the teams.
The reigning champions, who are unable to play in their home city of Donetsk due to the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian insurgents and the Ukrianian armed forces in the region, have always had a strong Brazilian contingent and that continues to this day, with 10 members of squad hailing from that country. With some solid domestic talents and an interesting, lusophone coach in the form of Fonseca, they are a very decent side.
Man City are still by far the most likely victors on Wednesday, but the available odds (with City 1/8 favourites and Shakhtar on offer at as long as 25/1 for victory) do somewhat underestimate Shakhtar’s competency, opening up an opportunity to back them on the Asian Handicap market.
Our Preview’s Man City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on Shakhtar Donetsk +2 goals on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 13/8 with Unibet.