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UEFA Champions League Group C Preview: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta

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In the Bavarian Football Works’ UEFA Champions League previews, we hit the important topics like who are these teams, how’d they get here, and what players you should keep an eye on. Next up: Group C.

Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester City (by Chuck Smith)

Who are they?

Simply put, Manchester City is one of richest and most powerful clubs in the world. Led by the irrepressible Pep Guardiola, Manchester City has a stacked roster in what has to be the easiest Champions League group. There are no weak areas for Manchester City. Defensively, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Benjamin Mendy lead a strong group, while the midfield and forward group features Kevin De Bruyne, İlkay Gündoğan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, and Raheem Sterling. Ederson is between the sticks for the Cityzens.

Manchester City does have some injuries, however, as both Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte are out for at least the rest of this calendar year.

How’d they get here?

Manchester City is here by virtue of winning the English Premier League.

Player to Watch

Kevin De Bruyne. For Bayern Munich fans, De Bruyne represents a case of “the one that got away.” De Bruyne is the play maker for Manchester City and is truly the key to the offensive attack for Pep Guardiola. While he does not always look to “shoot first”, De Bruyne can make life hell for the opposition by keeping them guessing on how he will attack. Extremely good at nearly every facet of the game offensively from dribbling to crossing to taking set pieces to maintaining possession, De Bruyne is just really, really good.

Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Shakhtar Donetsk (by Callum Seniuk)

Who are they?

The South American flair of Shakhtar Donetsk has transformed the Ukrainian club into a formidable force in the Eastern European country. Originally from Brazil, naturalized Ukrainian’s Junior Moraes and Marlos provide the spark in Shakhtar’s relentless attacking force alongside Taison, who has formed an intrinsic part of Donetsk’s identity over the years. Attacking talent is in abundance at Shakhtar with Israeli, Manor Solomon, and Brazilian, Tetê, being the prime example.

Elsewhere, Shakhtar contains numerous Ukrainian internationals such as Andriy Pyatov, Mykola Matviyenko, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Taras Stepanenko, Viktor Kovalenko, and the recent signing of Yevhen Konoplyanka. The combination of South American’s and Ukrainian’s has proved a successful formula, with Shakhtar winning the Ukrainian Premier League on their third consecutive occasion last season.

With Luis Castro at the helm, the Ukrainian club aspire to continue and improve on the previous tenure of Paulo Fonseca. Shakhtar Donetsk, despite being in a challenging group, will be looking to advance beyond the Group Stage in their quest for a successful European campaign.

How’d they get here?

Shakhtar Donetsk’s third consecutive Ukrainian Premier League title ensured they would once again commence their European campaign in the Group Stage of the Champions League.

Player to Watch

Junior Moraes. Moraes, Shakhtar’s 32 year-old striker, is formidable force in-front of goal. Reigning top scorer of the Ukrainian Premier League, the naturalized Ukrainians first season at Shakhtar Donetsk was pivotal in the clubs success. Moraes has the ability to provide and score. Last season the 32 year-old scored nineteen and assisted three. Combining with the attacking prowess of Shakhtar, the striker flourished with the support of Marlos in attacking midfield.

Moraes has the potential improve further under Luis Castro. The additions and development of players such as Manor Solomon and Yevhen Konoplyanka provides the striker with the ability of flourishing in a potentially potent attack. The initial stages of the Ukrainian Premier League suggest Moraes is continuing from where he left off.

FBL-EUR-C3-FRANKFURT-SHAKHTAR Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images

Dinamo Zagreb (by Miran)

Who are they?

Dinamo Zagreb is a Croatian football club based in capital Zagreb. The club was formed in 1911 known as Građanski but was renamed in 1945 into Dinamo Zagreb. They are one of the most successful clubs in Croatia’s history and their best result in a European competition was in 1967 when they won the former Europa League.

They have won their national championship 32 times in 5 different countries. Dinamo is the most successful Croatian club in modern history. Generally, Dinamo Zagreb is well known for their youth academy and generates a ton of world-class players.

How’d they get here?

Even though they won the league, they had to go through the Champions League play-offs. They got through to the group stage without any problems, they won FC Saburtalo Tiflis (5:0), Ferencváros Budapest (5:1), and Rosenborg Trondheim (3:1).

Player to Watch

Dani Olmo. Definitely an interesting player to watch is Olmo. The Spaniard had a good season last year with Dinamo and also won the UEFA U21 European championship. Many clubs were interested in the services of the 21-year-old, but he decided to stay for at least another year with Dinamo.

Ferencvarosi TC v GNK Dinamo Zagreb - UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

Atalanta (by Chuck Smith)

Who are they?

Atalanta is one of Italy’s top clubs in Serie A and features some quality talent that could be enough to help La Dea advance. Coached by 61-year-old Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta does not have a superstar, but relies more on its collective strength. Pierluigi Gollini is the team’s primary goalkeeper, while the core group of Robin Gosens, Berat Djimsiti, Andrea Masiello, Rafael Toloi, Hans Hateboer, Ruslan Malinovsky, Mario Pasalic, Marten de Roon, Luis Muriel, and Duvan Zapata comprise the team’s core group. Martin Skrtel’s recent — and unexpected — departure from the team certainly took away from the depth and experience on the roster.

How’d they get here?

Atalanta finished third in Serie A last season, which was good enough to get them an automatic bid into the group stage.

Player to Watch

Robin Gosens. As stated above, there is no superstar on this team, but the 25-year-old German should fans of this site someone to keep an eye on. With Atalanta’s current alignment favoring a 3-4-1-2, Gosens plays as a left wing-back looking to solidify the defense while crashing into the offensive zone as well. So far this season Gosens has one goal in two games and could be a key factor in Atalanta’s hopes to make it out of what should be a good fight for second place.

Atalanta BC v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Predictions

Phillip Quinn, Ineednoname, Tom Adams

1) Manchester City, 2) Dinamo Zagreb, 3) Atalanta, 4) Shakhtar Donetsk

Ryan Cowper, Logan Chugg, Brian Burton, Gopika, Mike Lynch

1) Manchester City, 2) Dinamo Zagreb, 3) Shakhtar Donetsk, 4) Atalanta

Yams

1) Manchester City, 2) Atalanta, 3) Dinamo Zagreb, 4) Shakhtar Donetsk

John Dillon, Chuck Smith, Marcus Iredahl, Callum Seniuk

1) Manchester City, 2) Shakhtar Donetsk, 3) Atalanta, 4) Dinamo Zagreb

Yams, Josh Tobolt, Fergus Tong

1) Manchester City, 2) Atalanta, 3) Shakhtar Donetsk, 4) Dinamo Zagreb

MiranKoFCB

1) Manchester City, 2) Shakhtar Donetsk, 3) Dinamo Zagreb, 4) Atalanta