Man Utd v Shakhtar Donetsk Preview

UEFA Champions League | Tuesday 10 December | Old Trafford | 21:45





A return to European competition will be a welcome tonic for David Moyes as his reign at Manchester United continues to suffer in the Premier League.

It seems as if some of his more pragmatic impulses are better suited to the tactical maelstrom of the Champions League.

Shakhtar Donetsk know that Bayer Leverkusen will likely overcome the group bunny Real Sociedad.

This means they will have to win to qualify, which should make for a scintillating feast of open football. Shakhtar are not a team to be underestimated, a point that Chelsea learnt last season.

To Win (90mins)
Man United 11/10 
Draw 24/10 
Shakhtar 26/10

MANCHESTER UNITED

There is a certain irony to David Moyes’ predicament of late. Many felt him too green to handle the pressures of European competition that being Manchester United manager would require him to face.

But it has been in Europe where United have blossomed; their victory in Germany against Leverkusen was probably the finest away performance I have seen by an English side in Europe.

Rooney will come back into the team; Van Persie probably wasn’t one hundred percent to play this past weekend anyway.

Michael Carrick has been a massive loss for Moyes and will pose some selection difficulty for the taciturn Scot.

Phil Jones has proven a popular choice in a defensive midfield role in European competition.

He may be the perfect foil for the evergreen Ryan Giggs, whose vision and eye for a pass has not been affected by the steady advance of years.

This could be yet another opportunity for Shinji Kagawa to try and cement a spot in Moyes’ first team plans.

The Japanese playmaker has flattered to deceive thus far in his United career and really could do with a commanding European performance.

United know that a draw will secure them the number one spot in the group, which could prove crucial in avoiding a Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the next phase of the competition.

They will approach the match with a slightly more defensive mindset than a Donetsk side who know that a draw will probably not be enough to see them through.

I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see United sitting back, attempting to remain compact, and launching counterattacks on a buccaneering Donetsk side.

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Mircea Lucescu’s side are in a far healthier position in their domestic league, holding off Dynamo
Kiev with more than a game to spare.

Donetsk have become something of a sleeper powerhouse in world football; they have a certain mystery about them which catches teams unawares.

Chelsea discovered this to their detriment last season; they were also clever enough to raid their resources with a quick swoop for Willian.

Donetsk possess many technically gifted footballers who could pose real questions for a United side desperately short of confidence.

Brazilian striker Luis Adriano has been in excellent form lately and allows Donetsk the chance to go direct at any opportunity.

The one area of the pitch that they may find real joy is down United’s left hand channel.

Srna is a very progressive fullback in comparison to Shevchuk and he will look to keep the equally ebullient Evra pegged back.

Evra, despite his obvious attacking qualities, has been caught many times this season out of position, and he doesn’t possess the recovery pace he once had to bail him out of awkward situations.

Hubschman and Fernando will play the sitting roles while Bernard and Douglas Costa have enough pace to cause United real problems on the wings.

I believe that Teixeira may be the biggest threat for United.

He reminds me of Dortmund’s Mkhitaryan, with his elusive running and his positional awareness.

Donetsk were dominated in large sections of the game in Spain against Real Sociedad, until Teixeira came virtually out of nowhere to score two goals against the run of play.

Shakhtar may have the reputation of being something of a feeder club for other clubs in Europe but United will do well not to underestimate an extremely dynamic and talented side.

Betting Prediction: DRAW 24/10
Donetsk will find joy on the right hand side, constantly finding Evra out of position. Adriano will also provide a good focal point to their attack. But Wayne Rooney will have his say in proceedings. His suspension on the weekend will see him return reinvigorated against Donetsk. United will take their foot off the pedal towards the end, allowing Donetsk to possibly sneak a point. United will finish top of the group, and Shakhtar will feel disappointed that they could not quite replicate last season’s heroics.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets. 

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