Celtic v Shakhtar Donetsk (Match Preview)
Probabilities for the match are Celtic 51%, Shakhtar 24% and 25% for the draw so Celtic are favourites to win this match.
Celtic are averaging 1.42 xG and 1.54 xGA for the four Champions League games so far and Shakhtar are averaging 0.66 xG and 1.87 xGA. So you can see why the probabilities are favouring Celtic and not just favouring them because of home advantage but favouring them by a good margin. Probabilities from the bookmakers say that the draw and a Shakhtar win combined are less likely than a Celtic win.
If everyone is fit Shakhtar are likely to line up with the following (the below includes passing stats) and Celtic expected line up (and stats) included too;
Below was the Shakhtar players’ average position against Celtic in the game in Krakow and the only change expected from that game would be 26 Konoplya moving from left back to right back to replace 23 Taylor and 15 Mykhaylychenko coming in to play left back.
Injury doubts are Konoplya and Shved and if they don’t make it they would be replaced by Taylor and Traore with Traore playing up front and Zubkov moved back to replace Shved.
Below are some comparison stats on Defensive Duels %, Opposing Penalty Box Touches, expected assists (xA) and expected goals (xG) all calculated to per 90 minutes for the first four Champions League games.
Shakhtar have had 0 shots in the six yard box (one of only two teams) and they have had only 1 set piece shot (the lowest of the 32 teams). Add to this that Celtic are the best (if not near the best) of the 32 teams in regards to Set Play chances conceded as they have conceded only 0.14 Set Play xG in total over the four games then this should allow Celtic to be confident of not conceding in this game.
Although Mudryk on the counter attack needs to be catered for.
Shakhtar narrowly lost 2-1 in Madrid and drew 1-1 with Madrid at home and those games should show Celtic how good defensively Shakhtar have been even if they have conceded more xG than Celtic. Their 4-1 win against Leipzig was against the run of play but again they managed to largely keep Leipzig out.
Celtic will continue to play their normal way and it’s interesting to note that they are 31st for long balls per game at 16.8. However Man City have 36.5 per game and maybe there is a missed opportunity for Celtic to be a bit more direct in these games.
Celtic have the third most crosses per match at 6.3 and they are top (of 32) for crossing accuracy at 33.8%.
I highlighted prior to the Leipzig home game that Celtic were struggling after 55 minutes in games and that high pressing in the final third was maybe tiring the players. However in the Leipzig home game defensive third presses were up 117%, middle third presses were up only 17% and final third presses were down 11% on the average from the first three games showing a tactical tweak by Ange on pressing.
This seemed to work as Celtic’s xG and xGD did not drop after 55 minutes and they manage to maintain it until the end of the game.
I anticipate a very low block from Shakhtar and for Celtic to totally dominate the game and I predict Celtic to win 1-0 with the fans having to wait until midway through the second half for that goal which will come from Reo Hatate.
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