Slick City can send Shakhtar packing
But Ukrainians no pushovers
Champions League Group F
BT Sport 3, 7.45pm Tuesday
It has been a sizzling September for Manchester City with Pep Guardiola’s men in record-breaking goalscoring form but they’ll be happy with a routine win against crack Ukraine outfit Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad.
But if Group F is actually a mini league featuring City, Shakhtar and Napoli, then the Pitmen are probably best-placed having seen off the Italian giants in Kharkiv in their first assignment.
And that success for Paulo Fonseca’s men was no fluke.
The idea that City will do to Shakhtar what they have done to the likes of Watford and Crystal Palace in the last week or so, is a tad fanciful, though Guardiola’s men should come through.
The layers are so sure of it that they are going 2-9 the Citizens with punters expecting them to continue their net-finding spree.
City look the bet but a hammering might not be in the script. Odds of 4-5 about them winning in a game featuring under 4.5 goals seems nigh-on daft, but so hot are Sergio Aguero and chums that it’s a bet for this game. And it looks a decent one.
Shakhtar are no Palace. Despite having a wretched record in England, they haven’t lost an away game in more than a year, a sequence which features European away days at Gent, Braga and Celta Vigo – albeit in the Europa League – plus a pair of visits to bitter rivals Dynamo Kiev.
With a stack of top-class Brazilians – their entire front four should be South American with the immensely talented Taison pulling strings behind Facundo Ferreyra – and Ukrainian organisation further back, they are a decent unit.
They happily sat deep against Napoli for long periods before launching on the counter and if they are prepared to play that way at home, expect the same in Manchester, especially as they already have three points on the board.
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So is there a case for backing the current Ukrainian Premier League leaders at 16-1?
It’s certainly a tempting price though City look absolutely irresistible.
They’ve won 11 of their last 12, drawing the other, and are unbeaten in their last ten at home in this competition. They beat Barcelona on home soil last season and Guardiola’s class of 2017 are better than last term’s.
Four of their players have already scored five goals this season, though it’s worth remembering that none of Brighton, Everton or Bournemouth were rolled over before City found their stride.
Manchester City & under 4.5 goals
2pts 4-5 Skybet
Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany are out. Benjamin Mendy (ankle) faces a late fitness test.
Captain Darijo Srna is out after testing positive for a banned substance. Centre-back Sergei Krvytsov and midfielder Maksym Malashev, both Ukraine internationals, are out with knee injuries.
Shakhtar have never won on six visits to England, losing five.
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