Home » Match Preview: Manchester United vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Undefeated and undeterred

Match Preview: Manchester United vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Undefeated and undeterred

by Tom Parker

Having already sealed their progress to the knock-out phase of the competition, Manchester United host Shakhtar Donetsk needing just a point to confirm top spot in Group A.

The Champions League has been something of a safe haven so far under David Moyes with United unbeaten in their five previous group games in stark contrast to their league form, which has been patchy so far to say the least.

Two consecutive home defeats and no win in four has cranked up the pressure on Moyes who is under increased scrutiny and a European assignment may well prove a welcome distraction.

Shakhtar go into the game in good form having won each of their last four games in all competitions and they have kept four clean sheets in the process. The Ukrainian outfit currently sit top of the Primera Liga and were extremely impressive in their last group match where they put four past Real Sociedad at the Donbass Arena.

On the injury front, David Moyes may have Shinji Kagawa back after the Japanese playmaker missed Saturday’s defeat against Newcastle through illness. Wayne Rooney is likely to start at the expense of Robin van Persie having served a domestic suspension. Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra are all doubts through injury.

Mircea Lucescu has a fully fit squad at his disposal for the trip to Old Trafford and will hope his Brazilian contingent can help the club reach the knock-out stages of the competition. Bayer Leverkusen are in touching distance and Shakhtar need to match their result to secure progression to the last 16. A victory would see the Pitmen top the group.

United battled to a valuable point when the two sides last met as Taison’s equaliser 15 minutes from time cancelled out Danny Welbeck’s opener. The Reds were unimpressive in Donetsk where they often looked sloppy in possession and lacked a real cutting edge, something which has been rather typical of the season so far.

Shakhtar were defeated 3-2 by Chelsea in their last trip to England. The Ukrainian outfit were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund at the last 16 stage last season but their reputation in European circles is growing despite the sales of a number of star players in the close-season.

The hope of course is that United, under comparatively little pressure with safe passage assured, play the football we all know Moyes’ side are capable of and ease the pressure on their under-fire boss.

United should be boosted by the return of  Rooney who is easily the best performer in a Red shirt so far this campaign. Six assists already in Europe suggests that the 28-year-old striker is the man to watch and if he can perform to the standards set by himself so far this campaign, United will be in a strong position.

A third home defeat in a week would be disastrous and would leave United vulnerable to drawing heavyweights Bayern Munich or Barcelona in the second round, so avoiding defeat is essential tomorrow night.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk 

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