Champions League Group C: Last-16 qualification in sight for Man City

Manchester City visits the San Siro on Wednesday aiming to secure qualification for the round of 16 with a win against Atalanta.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is not willing to take Atalanta lightly.   -  Getty Images

Sportstar previews Champions League Group C ahead of the matchday-four fixtures, with Atalanta hosting Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk travelling to Dinamo Zagreb.

-Atalanta v Manchester City

After the 5-1 thrashing of Atalanta at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City now travels to Italy for the reverse leg at San Siro.

With three wins in as many games, Manchester City enjoys the top spot in Group C, and a win on Wednesday night could seal its ticket to the knockouts stage. 

For Atalanta, the odds to progress look bleak. The Gian Piero Gasperini-led side is at the bottom of its group with no points in the pocket and has been guilty of letting in nine goals.

Gasperini intends for Atalanta to again go on the offensive, having taken the lead in Manchester. "I saw Manchester City's last match against Southampton, which they won late, but we don't want to do that," he said. "We will try to stay true to our brand of football. No one wants to concede lots of goals, but we will play attacking football."

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After the date with Atalanta, City has a showdown lined up on the weekend with Premier League leader Liverpool. Pep Guardiola could thus opt to make changes in the side — one of those could be the introduction of centre-back John Stones, who is now back in contention after recovering from a muscle injury.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, Guardiola seemed to be not taking Atalanta lightly as he said he was expecting a tough match. “Although it may seem the opposite given the result, we saw in Manchester that Atalanta is a very good team,” he commented. “The last time we met the match was very even in the first half.

“Before the first fixture there might have been a danger, but they know now what to expect, they have experienced exactly what it takes to come up against them.”

Atalanta will again be without influential striker Duvan Zapata, but coach Gasperini still believes they can get a result.“For us, it represents an opportunity. With a positive result we'll stay in Europe, even if it's in the Europa League,” he said.

-Dinamo Zagreb v Shakhtar Donetsk-

Having drawn their previous head-to-head fixture in Kharkiv on matchday three, Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk face off with three crucial points at stake.

A victory will provide a major boost for either side in the bid for last-16 qualification, with Shakhtar facing group-topping Manchester City next and Dinamo meeting the English champion in Zagreb on matchday six.

Both teams have no suspended players going into the fixture, but Shakhtar has a few injury doubts including Manor Solomon and Yevhen Konoplyanka, while Mario Gavranovic and Amer Gojak are doubtful for Dinamo.

At his pre-match press conference, Dinamo's manager Nenad Bjelica said: "I believe we will play as we did against Atalanta [winning 4-0] or as we did against Shakhtar in Kharkiv [drawing 2-2]. We believe we will be better than them, we are fresh and ready both psychologically and physically. The guys are motivated, relaxed, want to enjoy this game and, of course, win."

Luis Castro, the Shakhtar Donetsk manager, said: "It's a very important game. Both teams have four points so nothing is decided yet. The game tomorrow will tell us 90% who are going to reach the next stage. But let's not forget about Atalanta, they also still have chances."

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