2019-20 UEFA Champions League preview: Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City – Group C – Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist, Donetsk – September 18, 2019 – 20:00 hrs BST
Manchester City are expected to come back hard from their shocking Premier League loss to Norwich City on Saturday that left them trailing a clear five points behind Liverpool on the EPL table.
Pep Guardiola's men will be looking to make amends when they face Shakhtar Donetsk for their Champions League opener on Wedensday away in Ukraine. City find themselves against their Ukrainian rivals in the same cluster for a third season in a row.
Guardiola's men have been landed probably the easiest of Groups where the other two teams are Serie A club Atalanta and Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb. Barring a surprise defeat of 1-2 at the SportKomplex Metalist in 2017, the Citizens have managed to roll over their mid-week opponents with emphatic wins of 0-3 and 6-0 in the 2018-19 season.
City have enough firepower in them to repeat those feats on the 18th.
As for Team news, City will be without their key defender Aymeric Laporte, out till 2020 from a knee injury. Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane are long-term absentees, while Fernandinho has not played much this season.
The defensive pair of John Stones with Nicolas Otamendi looked truly shaky in the defeat against Norwich City and expect Shakhtar to capitalize on any weakness at the back on Wednesday night.
But the attack headed by Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling and supported by the likes of the incredible Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva looks in fine fettle and could be expected to find the back of the rival's net more than once.
Shakhtar battled to a 4-3 win over Zorya on Saturday in the Ukrainian League. The win took them to top of the league with seven wins out of seven games. As ever, they have a number of talented and technically astute Brazilians like Junior Moraes, Marlos and Taison within their ranks, many of whom have gained dual citizenship as Ukrainians.
Captain Taison and Marlos were both on target in the win over Zorya and then veteran striker Junior Morales banged in a brace. They have the quality to cause Man City problems but it's doubtful the defence could hold up to an attack led by Aguero, Sterling & co.
Barring unforeseen events, City should have a smooth start to their European campaign, something that reflects on the bookmakers' odds for the outcome of the September 18th's game.
Winners odds (Bet365)
(Bet365 Odds subject to change and correct as of 17/09/2019)
Manchester City: 3/10
Shakhtar Donetsk: 9/1
Correct score odds
Manchester City 1-0: 7/1
Manchester City 3-0: 15/2
Draw 1-1: 9/1
Manchester City 3-1: 9/1
Manchester City 4-0: 12/1
Manchester City 4-1: 16/1
Any time scorers
Sergio Aguero: 10/11
Raheem Sterling: 1/1
Gabriel Jesus: 21/20
Bernardo Silva: 2/1