All eyes, rightly, will be on Manchester City v Napoli at the Etihad in Group F but the two sides should have an eye on proceedings in Holland as both have already realised how useful Shakhtar Donetsk are after two games and the visitors can take another result from their clash with Feyenoord.
Feyenoord have struggled so far in Europe, with 7-1 aggregate defeats against Manchester City and Napoli at home and away, and whilst they faced tough tasks there, their recent form suggests a team that is struggling right now. They have only won one of their last four games and drew against PEC Zwolle at the weekend whilst they also lost 2-0 at home against NAC Breda, who currently lie seventh in the Eredivisie.
Shakhtar themselves have made a very useful start to the season, topping their own league despite having been forced to play well outside their traditional home for more than a year now with 10 wins from 12 games on the domestic front. Taison has been extremely inferential in midfield, helping Facundo Ferreyra to score nine goals so far including four in the last fortnight. They have lost only twice this season and one of those was a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City when the scoreline flattered the home side who were outplayed until tiredness began to tell and a number of players needed treatment for cramp in the second half. They were thoroughly deserving of their 2-1 win over Napoli at home on the first matchday but have a fine away record which suggests they can take three points from this trip. Shakhtar have won seven of nine road games since they joined the 2015/16 Europa League knockout stages.
Monaco’s run to the semi-finals of this competition last season was always going to see plenty of vultures circling around their team but they have suffered a lot with the departures of Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy and also Bernardo Silva and it has begun to show recently. Leonardo Jardim has a tough task on his hands and is trying to switch between 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 following his side’s defeat at Monaco over the weekend and life in Europe has been a struggle for him so far.
Monaco were well and truly beaten 3-0 by Porto on the last matchday when the visitors managed to overrun them and this Beskitas side has paid plenty of attention to Europe with impressive results so far. There is a vein of top-class players through the side thanks to the addition of Alvaro Negredo, Gary Medel and Pepe and that experience came through with two impressive wins, the first coming at the same Porto side who were comfortable winners against Monaco just a fortnight ago. They can take another scalp here.
Borussia Dortmund’s incredible start to the season domestically ended with a 3-2 defeat at home to Red Bull Leipzig but they can bounce back with a decent win at APOEL. The encounter has become a must win for the Germans, who have lost to both Spurs and Madrid, with the pair of them taking a 6 point lead over them, although they do meet tonight at the Bernabeu.
However, this – whilst not being a walkover – is a very different sort of assignment. Spurs had the motivation and energy infront of a hyped-up Wembley crowd when Heung Min-Son and Harry Kane scored their three goals, although Dortmund had a goal dubiously disallowed towards the end when putting pressure on Spurs late into the second half.
They weren’t able to match the sheer quality of Real Madrid two weeks ago, but APOEL do not possess anything like the same quality for all that they can cause problems on the counter-attack and Dortmund should be able to get the job done with a bit to spare. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only failed to score in three games so far this season and at least two goals in three of his eight league outings and the 13/5 on him scoring two or more is of interest, but Dortmund can pass the handicap.
Spartak’s crunch clash with Sevilla looks trappy, as the hosts have recovered from a poor early start to the season to go unbeaten in nine games. Sevilla have started strongly and did take a point from Anfield which will be crucial but they have lost their last two on the road in Spain to boot and it looks a clash to be swerved although Wissam Ben Yedder’s four-goal tally in the competition catches the eye.
Red Bull Leipzig’s win at Dortmund should prove an immeasurable boost to the squad and the fact it came without starlets Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg who ought to return to the starting line up. However, they should be wary of a Porto side that gave Monaco the run around only two weeks ago and this is a watching brief.
3 pts Shakhtar Donetsk (6/5 general)
1 pt Borussia Dortmund -2 (15/8 Betfair)
2 pts Bestikas +1 (13/10 Bet365)
1 pt Besiktas (5/1 Sporting Bet)