05 Dec Shakhtar Donetsk V Manchester City talking points
Manchester City face Shakhtar Donetsk in their final Champions League Group F match on Wednesday.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at some talking points ahead of the game.
What is riding on the match?
From City’s point of view, the game is a dead rubber. Pep Guardiola’s side are already assured of top spot after winning their first five matches. It is not a meaningless fixture for Shakhtar, however, as they still have a place in the last 16 within their grasp. They have a three-point advantage over Napoli and need to avoid defeat to make certain.
Will City make changes?
There is no disguising the fact this is not City’s main focus this week. They have a tougher challenge much closer to home as they face arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Winning that would give them an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League and a huge advantage in the title race. With that in mind, youngsters Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz – both substitutes against Napoli last month – could feature again as star names are rested. David Silva has not even travelled and Kevin De Bruyne is suspended. Tosin Adarabioyo could also get a chance.
Can City maintain their winning run?
City have won their last 20 matches in all competitions, a club record they will be expected to extend in Kharkiv. They will have to be wary against Shakhtar, however, particularly if they are not at full strength. The Ukrainian champions are again top of their domestic league having lost just twice in 18 games. They also tested City before losing 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium in September, with Guardiola remarking “they make amazing build-up, they are a machine”.
Who are Shakhtar’s dangermen?
Shakhtar’s recent dominance of Ukrainian football and prominence in Europe has been based around a core of South American talent. Their squad currently boasts seven Brazilians and two Argentinians. Another Brazilian-born star, the attacking midfielder Marlos, is now a Ukraine international having qualified
through residency. Marlos, who impressed at the Etihad, has scored eight goals this season. The Argentinian striker Facundo Ferreyra is another obvious threat having struck 13 times this term.
Why is the game in Kharkiv?
Shakhtar have been unable to play in their home city for three years following the outbreak of war in the Donbass region of Ukraine. They initially took up temporary residence 780 miles away in Lviv. The move did not badly affect their football – they reached the Europa League semi-finals in 2016 – but, not surprisingly, attendances were poor. Last year they switched to Kharkiv, still 200 miles from Donetsk but a city far more welcoming following the demise of its own local side, Metalist, who folded in 2016. It is cold in Kharkiv and the temperature could dip to -2C for the game, which kicks off at 9.45pm local time. Some forecasts have even suggested snow.