Manchester City host Shakhtar Donetsk in their second Champions League Group F match on Tuesday.
Here, we look at some talking points ahead of the game.
Can City keep on scoring?
City have certainly moved up a gear since the last international break. They have thrashed Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace in the Premier League by an aggregate score of 16-0 and opened their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 hammering of Feyenoord. Manager Pep Guardiola says he not only wants his team to carry on playing in the same free-flowing manner but get better at it, so their intentions are clear.
The Ukrainian champions are not to be underestimated. They may be third favourites in the group behind City and Serie A leaders Napoli, but they were its top seeds. They have lost just once this season and won nine of their 11 outings, including a 2-1 victory over Napoli a fortnight ago. They do have a poor record in England – losing on five of their six trips – but they have won their last five European away games. This is their seventh appearance in the group stage in the past eight seasons.
Shakhtar’s squad is bolstered by a strong core of South American flair and experience, particularly in midfield. Their current group contains eight Brazilians – six of them midfielders – and two Argentinians, who are both strikers. This is nothing new. City’s Brazil midfielder Fernandinho came to the Etihad Stadium in 2013 after eight successful years in Donetsk during which time he won six domestic titles and the UEFA Cup. He continues to speak affectionately about the club and will doubtless enjoy the reunion.
Guardiola’s plea to fans
City supporters have been slow to embrace the Champions League as a whole. There has been an indifference to some of the competition’s nuances, when looked at in comparison to the excitement of the Premier League, while antipathy towards governing body UEFA and ticketing issues have not helped. Guardiola, whose love of the Champions League is well known, tried to enthuse fans last season and is continuing the rallying cries. “We need our fans. Hopefully our fans can come,” he said on Saturday. “I use my social media and the media here to (say), ‘Come on, come next Tuesday to help us.”
Aguero chasing the record
The main focus will be on securing a victory that would move City clear at the top of the group, but the side story involving Aguero could command the headlines. The prolific Argentinian scored his 176th City goal in Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Palace to move within one of equalling the club’s all-time record. That record was set by 1930s hero Eric Brook and has stood since league football shut down for the Second World War.
Source: By PA Sport Staff