Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester CityUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Sep 18, 2019, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist
THE Champions League crown remains tantalisingly out of touch for a Man City side who have swept all before them on the domestic scene with Pep Guardiola at the helm.
Two league titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup have all been squirreled away during the Spaniard's three-year reign but the furthest they've got in Europe's premier club competition is the quarter-finals.
That's a significant underachievement for such an expensive and talented squad, who kick off their bid to set the record straight this season with a trip to Ukraine.
Shakhtar are a familiar foe, with the sides have been drawn in the same group in the last two seasons. City were stunned 2-1 away to the Ukrainians in 2017 before exacting emphatic revenge last term with a 6-0 drubbing.
Shakhtar are now accustomed to playing their home games 150 miles away, having shared Metalist Kharkiv's stadium since 2017 due to the ongoing conflict in their own city.
Luis Castro, who replaced Daniel Fonesca this summer, has yet to taste defeat as manager of the Ukrainian champions, who top their league with a perfect record of seven straight wins.
But this Euro opener is a considerable step up in class and that's why they are huge outsiders at 9-1 with Ladbrokes.
The hosts will take heart from the shambolic City defending that contributed to their shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich on Saturday. With Aymeric Laporte out injured for the next six months, the centre-back pairing of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi was all over the shop.
Shakhtar, always a danger with their blend of Brazilians, have netted in nine of their last 10 ‘home' games in the Champions League – the exception being their shellacking by City – and both teams to score has a fair chance at 10-11 with Betfred.
Still, it would be unwise to get too carried away with an unexpected City slip-up. Guardiola will demand an instant reaction from his players and Shakhtar could bear the brunt of the Premier League champions' frustration.
There's no value in the best price 1-3 at Marathonbet for a City win, so instead consider the visitors and both teams to score at 9-5 with Boylesports and an away win and over 2.5 goals at 4-5 with Coral.
Raheem Sterling drew a rare blank at the weekend but his pace will be a key weapon in Ukraine and the City and England winger – with eight goals in eight appearances this season – can add to that tally.
This UEFA Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester City will be played on Sep 18, 2019 and kick off at 20:00