Manchester City XI vs Shakhtar Donetsk
After a rocketing start to the season, Manchester City take on Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk in their second game of the Champions League group stage.
Shakhtar are the first team to head to the Etihad in the Champions League and City will be confident at home after two 5-0 wins over Liverpool and Crystal Palace.
Shaktar are also undefeated so far in the Ukrainian Premier League plus a win over Napoli in first CL game puts them in good position for tonight but City are a force to be reckoned with 27 goals in all competitions.
So, what can we expect from the top of the table team.
Ilkay Gundogan, Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy are all unavailable for tonight clash through injury.
However the team expected to play is still extremely strong.
After his clash with Sadio Mane, City fans were worried as to how long it would take Ederson to return but he bounced back in the next game against Bournmouth.
He’s been outstanding, keeping a clean sheet in the last four games and only two goals conceded in the league.
There was no real danger from Feyenoord but Shakhtar could prove differently, Midfielder Marlos has 5 goals in 11 appearances and striker Facudo Ferreyra has 5 goals in 12 apps.
The partnership of Otamendi and Stones was one worried about by most City fans, especially with Kompany’s unfortunate injury.
However I’ll give Otamendi credit where it’s due, the majority of his tackles have been clean and his pass accuracy has become much better since the end of the last campaign.
I still believe him and Kompany form a stronger barrier but without Vincent, Stones has been a reliable replacement.
Like Otamendi, Johns had critics, especially last season but he does seem to be up.
Against Crystal Palace he made some excellent tackles to stop Benteke and Loftus Cheek from advancing, I have high hopes for him tonight.
Let’s not forget the two goals he scored against Feyenoord earlier this month which has helped City’s goal difference for the group stages.
After a shaky first home game which ended in a red card it’s been nothing but entertaining football from Kyle Walker.
His immense strength and fluidity on the ball is just amazing to watch, he’s perfect in a wing back role, he has the pace and the talent to make the ball land just where he wants.
As his natural role is right back he works very well with Leroy Sane when he sits on the right wing linking up to set an assist or an attack himself.
If Guardiola sticks with the past few games formation then look out for Walker on the Wing.
One of my favourite signings of the window had to be Danilo. Coming from Real Madrid for around £26 million seems like a bargain for City.
Many believed he was a last minute replacement for Dani Alves but if he was a fantastic choice.
Similar to Walker he is brilliant as a wing back, he’s reliable when City have three at the back and when he plays left back as well.
Shakhtar’s defence will need pace and skill to stop Danilo crossing vital balls to Aguero and/or Jesus.
Merlin as I like to call him, even though his haircuts got worse his football certainly hasn’t.
He will more than certainly cause trouble for Shakhtar tonight with his quick and intellectual football.
He’s racked up 6 assists already this season but no goals as of yet.
Silva has created the most chances for City so far this season with Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero close behind.
Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne has had a solid start to the campaign and could too cause Shakhtar problems at the back.
He’s not afraid to run back and help defend an attack, he’ll run wherever he believes he’s needed.
If Shakhtar step off the gas then De Bruyne and his team mates won’t hesitate to advance.
In a recent article Kevin said ‘ I get more joy from an assist sometimes, it’s just how I feel’ and with Silva on 6 assists and De Bruyne only on 3, he’ll be doing his best to equal his team mate.
An inSané start to the season for Leroy with 3 goals and 2 assists in the Premier League plus two in the League cup last week.
His name couldn’t ring any louder around the Etihad Stadium and I have no doubt it shall do the same this evening.
It could be his time to shine on the Champions League stage and increase his goal tally across all competitions.
Sterling is definitely trying to defy the critics this year and he is doing so to an extent.
Yes, he’s scored 5 goals in five appearances but for me he just isn’t on the same football playing level as Sane, De Bruyne and Silva.
His touch certainly has improved on last season and if he’s in the right place then Shakhtar could pay the price.
However his passing and capability to keep hold of the ball just isn’t good enough, he seems to let the ball fall too far in front of him which could let City down massively.
Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero
Aguero is leading goal scorer so far this season and has helped City to the top of the Premier League.
He could prove vital for City in the Champions League with 6 years of experience, he’s able to work a back line like no other.
Ivan Ordets and Yaroslav Rakitskyy could have a tough job of keeping Aguero and potentially Jesus at bay and after a good start against Napoli they’ll be wanting to capitalise on tonight’s chance to go top of the group.
Jesus has scored 4 in 5 games in the League just 1 behind Sterling and 2 behind Aguero, he’s had a great start to the season giving him lots of confidence heading into the game.
He scored in the first game against Feyernoord and will be wanting to add to his tally against Shakhtar.
His quick pace and teamwork with Aguero should bring some more interesting and exciting football to the Etihad and the Champions League.