It’s Matchday 3 in the Champions League as once again all attention centres on Group C!
Shakhtar have the chance to pull away in second place with the first of two consecutive European ties against Dinamo Zagreb!
The Croatian side visit Kharkiv where both sides know that a victory will give them the edge over the other. Level on three points apiece after two games, the next two fixtures look to be the battle for second place with bottom side, Atalanta facing group favourites Man City elsewhere.
Shakhtar have a full strength squad to choose from with Ismaily included after missing the most recent game. Once again, Luis Castro is comfortable enough to make just one forward; the inform Moraes with his broad midfield choice supplementing him.
As has been a normal occurrence under Castro since the UCL campaign began, a number of players were rested on the weekend, as Shakhtar still managed to demolish Kolos 6-0. However, tonight’s task will be a very different story.
This Dinamo Zagreb side should not be underestimated as they have already shown in this campaign, seeing off debutants Atalanta 4-0 in the opening round of fixtures. Despite this, Dinamo’s record against Ukrainian opposition is not the most formidable.
They have failed to beat Ukrainian rivals in ten European games and have an even worse group stage away record overall, having lost their past 13 games away from the Maksimir.
The balance in Shakhtar’s team leaves them in good stead, with quality and discipline across the pitch. Kryvstov and Matvienko has shown they can do it against the likes of Ronaldo whilst Moraes has 12 goals in 13 games and a knack for scoring in big games.
Regardless of preparations, Shakhtar will be looking to take advantage of the fixture list by beating Dinamo in consecutive games and all but securing knockout football, granting that City also win their own games. Ukrainian coefficient should be getting some positive movement over the next month as a result.
Meanwhile, in the other game in Group C; Ukraine’s two midfield maestro’s go head to head at the Etihad. Malinovksyi seems to be in the form of his life after the recent international break rewarding him with a start for Atalanta on the weekend. The media were seriously impressed with his performance against Lazio.
However, City’s Zinchenko has not been experiencing the best of times at his club of late. He was missing from the squad that visited Palace on Sunday and has not started for a number of games. Is he falling out of favour with Pep or was he just being rested for tonight?