Simon Mail previews Manchester City's Champions League clash at home to Shakhtar Donetsk and expects Pep Guardiola's team to win with something to spare...
"There is no doubt Man City have significantly improved their defence this season and their record speaks for itself. Pep Guardiola's side have kept clean sheets in five of their last six matches and the only goal they conceded was a penalty against Southampton."
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk
Live on BT Sport 3
City back on track after Lyon blip
Manchester City remain the Champions League favourites despite their shock opening defeat this season to Lyon. Pep Guardiola's side were well below par at the Etihad Stadium in September when they were beaten 2-1 by the French club. It was their third successive home defeat in the competition and they are looking to avoid becoming the first English team to lose four in a row.
Normal service resumed after this opening setback with Man City fighting back to win 2-1 at Hoffenheim. In their last match, the Premier League champions eased to a 3-0 victory in Shakhtar Donetsk to send them into the return match in good heart. City are top of their group and back on track as they continue their challenge for a first Champions League triumph. They warmed up in style thrashing Southampton 6-1 on Sunday.
Shakhtar struggling for qualification
While Shakhtar enjoyed a successful campaign in the Champions League last season, it has been a different story so far this year. The Ukraine team qualified from their group in the previous campaign alongside Man City. In the second round of the competition, Shakhtar were unlucky to lose on away goals to Roma after a 2-2 draw on aggregate.
Although Shakhtar are cruising at the top of their domestic division, it has been a disappointing start in Europe for Paulo Fonseca's side. An opening 2-2 draw at home to Hoffenheim was followed by the same scoreline in Lyon. Their heavy home defeat to Man City in the last match has left them bottom and with a struggle on their hands to progress.
Favourites virtually unbackable at the odds
As has become the norm, Man City are are an exceptionally short price and only the heaviest of hitters will consider lumping on them at just [1.13]. There is no value in siding with them in this market and it has to be remembered Guardiola's side slipped up at similar odds recently against Lyon.
Shakhtar are rank outsiders at huge odds of [29.0]. On first glance, some may take an interest in this considering City's recent problems at home in Europe but it is hard to imagine an upset. Shakhtar have never won an away European match in England from seven attempts and it is difficult to make a plausible case for them.
The draw is also a very big price at [11.5] but City look irresistable at the moment and have not been held at home since the draw with Huddersfield in May. Shakhtar have drawn two of their three matches in the competition this season but holding City would be a huge step up from their previous results in the group.
There is no doubt Man City have significantly improved their defence this season and their record speaks for itself. Guardiola's side have kept clean sheets in five of their last six matches and the only goal they conceded was a penalty against Southampton. Both of their wins over Shakhtar were to nil and the best bet looks to be backing City to repeat this again.
Using Betfair's Same Game Multi option, you can combine several bets to enhance the odds. Free-scoring City have scored in both halves of their last four home matches netting a total of 15 goals. If you back a goal to be scored in both halves and Shakhtar to fail to find the net, generous odds of 2.65 are on offer.
Since his Champions League debut for Man City in September 2011, only Sergio Aguero (33) has been involved in more goals for the Citizens than David Silva (15) with the Spaniard providing seven goals and eight assists. Silva is 13/8 to score in this fixture.
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