Shakhtar Donetsk – Manchester City: Routine victory for City, who show off a myriad of build-up patterns (0-3)
Manchester City showed great flexibility in their build-up patterns and managed to control this game from the get. Once the first goal was in the net, the game was effectively over, as Shakhtar could not manage to keep City from entering their penalty area. In the second half, it was interesting to see that City was happy to concede the ball to Shakhtar and play more defensively than normal.
Shakhtar Donetsk is still not playing their home games on their home ground, the Donbass Stadium in Donetsk. That stadium is partly damaged by bombings and is currently being held by Russian occupationists. Just like the rule installed by FIFA that Russian and Ukrainian clubs cannot play each other in the Champions League or Europa League, this serves as a reminder that sports and politics are not easily separated.
As this is a website about football tactics, this article will not expand further about geo-political relationships between Russia and Ukraine, but examine the starting lineup fielded by Shakhtar’s manager Paulo Fonseca. Like most Portuguese managers, he nominally opts for a 4-2-3-1 shape.
It has become a custom at Shakhtar to have a lot of talented Brazilians up front and this team is no exception to this rule. Nineteen year-old Fernando got the nod as a left winger, Wellington played on the right and Junior Moraes has been their starting striker this season.
City looked to start in a 4-3-3 formation, but with Pep Guardiola at the helm, eleven names on a piece of paper sometimes are just eleven names on a piece of paper. Kevin de Bruyne made his first start for Manchester City after an injury that cost him . . .