Manchester City vs Shakhtar Donetsk preview, betting tips and predictions: City will be too hot for Ukrainian visitorsPublished September 21, 2017
Manchester City to win 3-1 @ 17/2 with Betfair
Manchester City to win with -2 handicap @ 13/8 with Betfair
Manchester City to win and BTTS @ 11/8
Manchester City probably came into this Champions League group, on paper, fearing Napoli the most. The Italians, like City, are known for their propensity to attack, and given City’s frailties in defence, that looks like causing them the most worry. In reality not much has changed, but perhaps Tuesday’s opponents Shakhtar Donetsk will be on their minds a little more give their home win over Napoli on Matchday 1.
The 2-1 win showed attacking quality, particularly through Brazilian Bernard and striker Facundo Ferreyra, who is not too fondly remembered by Newcastle United fans. But it also demonstrated levels of defensive strength, discipline and professionalism that will stand them in good stead at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s men remain heavy favourites, though, mainly because it is all but impossible to counteract their attacking options. Guardiola’s system is so good at helping them avoid being contained, at home especially, because it gives both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero license to hurt teams up front, while not shackling either David Silva or Kevin de Bruyne. Recent games, including the 4-0 win at Feyenoord on opening night, show how City have altered their approach slightly, meaning their 3-1-4-2 formation is productive and not just a way of fitting as many stars on the pitch at once. Before facing West Brom in the League Cup, City had not conceded in three games and scored 15 goals. It is hard to see them failing to continue their great attacking form in this one.
But there will be pockets for Shakhtar to pick off on the break. Ferreyra will provide a focal point for them to play off of, while Bernard has great close control that could help him pick off the spaces between City’s centre backs and wingbacks. The other goalscorer against Napoli, Taison, has the pace to run at City’s high line; they will not be afraid. Having scored 66 goals in Ukraine last season, they showed their threat, but they only conceded 24. They were able to keep Napoli quiet, and although it is tough to see them getting anything at the Etihad, backing City in the second half and a half time draw 16/5 may not be a bed bet either. At 11/8 on BTTS, the right stake could make it worthwhile.
Key battle: Taison vs Kyle Walker
It is clear that City’s defence has improved a lot over the course of the last few games, they still must be wary of an attack that did enough to beat Napoli, particularly because the way they line up offers teams the chance to counter attack if they are brave enough. Taison, like his teammates, holds his position well, but as Walker pushes up, he’ll get into positions to punish any mistakes.
Through him, Bernard and Ferreyra, Shakhtar will have a presence in attack that means City cannot take the result for granted. As always, City will go on the front foot from the start, but they may well resort to the formation they use away from home, 4-1-3-2, to balance out against the threat. Walker has the pace to keep tabs on Taison, and he will be in a much better position after the ball is turned over as a natural fullback.