Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has backed Manchester City to avoid a slip-up in their Champions League tie against Shakhtar Donetsk – but feels the team could swap in Claudio Bravo for a ‘rusty’ Ederson in the City net.
Ederson made his comeback for the Premier League champions in their 2-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday after missing the defeat to Liverpool through injury before the international break.
Making his midweek Champions League predictions for Sky Sports, Nicholas has few doubts over City sealing their qualification for the knockout stages tonight – but insists there are still issues in defence for Pep Guardiola to deal with.
He said: “I feel there are still problems at the back for City. You could see that against Chelsea, but what a fabulous game of football.
“I have gone with 3-1 because there are still some frailties at the back. City could play Claudio Bravo as Ederson looked a tad rusty against Chelsea, so it could give him a bit more time to recover.”
Having also sat out the international period for Brazil, it would be no surprise if Ederson was not up to scratch at the weekend – not least against a team that went into the game at the Etihad Stadium above City in the table.
With just six shots on target out of a combined 26 between the two sides, both ‘keepers on Saturday evening were largely untroubled, so Ederson’s tally of a single save is by no means a reflection of a sub-standard performance.
Though having been out for an extended period of time, perhaps a run of games is what Ederson needs right now – and with City yet to assure themselves of a place in the next round, there are still plenty of reasons to play Ederson against Shakhtar, as they look to seal top spot in Group C.
Meanwhile, Nicholas’ assertion that there are problems at the back would surely mean that playing their first-choice goalkeeper would help to solidify a so-called second-rate defence.
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