Manchester City launch their latest attempt to win the Champions League as they travel to Ukraine to face familiar foes Shakhtar Donestsk in Kharkiv on Wednesday.
Here, we take a look at what lies in store for Pep Guardiola and his squad in the Group C encounter.
Head to head
This is hardly a step into the unknown for City, as it is the third consecutive year they have been drawn in the same group as the Ukrainian champions.
Two years ago, City beat Shakhtar 2-0 in Manchester but then, having already secured their place in the last 16, lost 2-1 in Kharkiv in December 2017. That defeat was City’s first loss of the 2017-18 season in any competition. The sides renewed acquaintances last season with City winning 3-0 in Kharkiv and 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium. Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick in the latter.
One aspect of the contest that will be different is that Shakhtar now have a new coach. The highly-regarded Paulo Fonseca, who memorably conducted his post-match press conference in a Zorro mask after beating City two years ago, has left for Roma to be replaced by fellow Portuguese Luis Castro.
Castro, 58, had an unheralded playing career as a left-back, mainly in the Portuguese lower leagues, before moving into coaching. Again, he spent considerable time in the lower divisions before guiding Penafiel to 11th in the top flight in 2005. He then moved into the Porto youth system and even had a spell as first-team caretaker coach – following Fonseca’s departure – in 2013-14. Stints at Rio Ave, Chaves and Vitoria followed before he took over at Shakhtar this summer.
Shakhtar’s successes throughout the modern era have been based around a strong core of Brazilian players but there is also a Ukrainian that City will need to keep a close eye on in Yevhen Konoplyanka. City should know all about him.
The 29-year-old winger scored against City for Sevilla at the Etihad Stadium in 2015 and he was also in the Schalke side they came up against in the last 16 last season.
Source: Andy Hampson| The Independent