Man City vs Shakhtar Donetsk preview: Pep Guardiola may rotate squad for Champions League

Manchester City have a chance to put one foot in the last 16 of the Champions League with a win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

City won the previous meeting 3-0 at the Metalist Stadium where David Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Bernardo were all on the scoresheet.

Pep Guardiola’s men are top of Group F following two wins from their three games while Shakhtar are four points behind having drawn 2-2 with both Lyon and Hoffenheim.

“The first step is qualify for the next round,” Guardiola said. “We have three chances, winning the two games at home we’ll be there and that is the first target.

“People say ‘oh that is not enough’. Always in my opinion to achieve the [knockout stage] is already a big success. Every season it’s going to happen that big, big clubs are going to be out. They are not going to qualify for the next round. So to go through is already a big achievement.”

Team news

Guardiola confirmed that both Ilkay Gundogan and Nicolas Otamendi are available after recovering from knocks.

Kevin De Bruyne is out with ligament damage and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo remains a long-term absentee. Guardiola may make changes to his team with one eye on the Manchester derby on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

“Every game is important, and you have to evaluate,” Guardiola said when asked about rotating his squad.

“Shakhtar is the most important because it’s the first one. After dropping points against Lyon every game is a final.

“We have a chance to step into next round, then we have three or four days to think about United.”

Ivan Ordets, Maksym Malyshev and Fernando all look unlikely to feature for the visitors due to injury.

Opta facts

  • Manchester City have won two of their three Champions League encounters with Shakhtar Donetsk, losing the other in December 2017.
  • Shakhtar Donetsk have never won an away European match in England in seven attempts (W0 D1 L6) – in their most game there, they lost 0-2 to Man City.
  • Manchester City have lost their last three home Champions League games, all in 2018 and all by the same scoreline – 1-2 against Basel, Liverpool and Lyon.
  • Shakhtar have lost seven of their last nine away Champions League matches (W1 D1), though they avoided defeat in their last away game at Lyon, drawing 2-2.
  • Should Manchester City lose against Shakhtar, they will be the first English side in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to lose four consecutive home matches – the only other side to lose three in a row are Spurs in November 2016.
  • Ukrainian sides have never won in England in 28 attempts in European competition (W0 D6 L22) – the last team to avoid defeat were Dynamo Kiev in March 2016 at the Etihad against Manchester City, a 0-0 draw.
  • Shakhtar Donetsk faced 24 shots in their 0-3 defeat to Man City on MD3, the most they’d faced in a Champions League game since September 2015 against Real Madrid (26).
  • Kevin De Bruyne has assisted six goals in his last 12 Champions League appearances for Manchester City, including one against Shakhtar on MD3 – all assists have been for different players (David Silva, John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Aymeric Laporte).

Charlie’s prediction

Shakhtar Donetsk used to be a difficult tie a couple of years ago but they’ve lost their way a bit now and it should be another comfortable night for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola can afford to make one or two changes but that doesn’t seem to bother them too much and this machine will continue to roll on.

Charlie predicts: 3-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

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