David Moyes’ men could hardly have asked for a more testing first away game in the Champions League and Shakhtar look the better of the wagers for victory in their clash, with the two sides inseparable in the betting at odds of 8/5.
No British side has ever won at the Donbass Arena.
In fact only Fulham have ever avoided defeat at the home of the Ukrainian Champions, with Chelsea, Arsenal (twice), Tottenham and Celtic (twice) on the wrong end of losses.
The hosts didn’t yield more than a single goal to raiders from the United Kingdom in any of those fixtures.
Shakhtar have lost just once at home in all competitions since November 2011.
That 1-0 reverse in last season’s Champions League group stage came at the hands of Juventus, suggesting a clean sheet is imperative if procuring three points rather than a lump of coal in the mining city is the objective of your visit.
A massive 27 of those 32 matches were won by Mircea Lucescu’s side and the meeting with Antonio Conte’s men was the only time they were denied a goal.
The Pitmen’s defence gives little change on home turf.
With the importance of scoring at least once clear, the strength of Shakhtar’s backline is another disconcerting factor for Moyes’ visitors.
Eventual Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund were the only visitors to notch more than once at the Donbass last season and four clean sheets in six home outings this term suggests the hosts aren’t getting any more generous.
Lucescu’s changing cast of Brazilians are a many-limbed attacking headache.
Fernandinho and Willian may have departed after discombobulating Chelsea and Juventus defences last term, but their partners in crime Luis Adriano and Alex Teixeira are still in town, with the latter delivering a matchday one brace against Real Sociedad.
Far from weakening Shakhtar’s attacking guile, however, their exits have opened the door for many more Brazilian international arrivals, among them Bernard, Fernando and Wellington Nem, all of whom could line up against United.