Sergio Aguero chasing the record and other talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Shakhtar Donetsk

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Manchester City host Shakhtar Donetsk in their second Champions League Group F match on Tuesday.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some talking points ahead of the game.

CAN CITY KEEP ON SCORING?

City have certainly moved up a gear since the last international break.

They have thrashed Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace in the Premier League by an aggregate score of 16-0 and opened their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 hammering of Feyenoord.

Manager Pep Guardiola says he not only wants his team to carry on playing in the same free-flowing manner but get better at it, so their intentions are clear.

SHAKHTAR’S FORM

The Ukrainian champions are not to be underestimated.

They may be third favourites in the group behind City and Serie A leaders Napoli, but they were its top seeds.

They have lost just once this season and won nine of their 11 outings, including a 2-1 victory over Napoli a fortnight ago.

They do have a poor record in England – losing on five of their six trips – but they have won their last five European away games. This is their seventh appearance in the group stage in the past eight seasons.

FERNANDINHO REUNION

Shakhtar’s squad is bolstered by a strong core of South American flair and experience, particularly in midfield.

Their current group contains eight Brazilians – six of them midfielders – and two Argentinians, who are both strikers. This is nothing new.

City’s Brazil midfielder Fernandinho came to the Etihad Stadium in 2013 after eight successful years in Donetsk during which time he won six domestic titles and the UEFA Cup.

He continues to speak affectionately about the club and will doubtless enjoy the reunion.

GUARDIOLA’S PLEA TO FANS

City supporters have been slow to embrace the Champions League as a whole.

There has been an indifference to some of the competition’s nuances, when looked at in comparison to the excitement of the Premier League, while antipathy towards governing body UEFA and ticketing issues have not helped.

Guardiola, whose love of the Champions League is well known, tried to enthuse fans last season and is continuing the rallying cries.

“We need our fans. Hopefully our fans can come,” he said on Saturday. “I use my social media and the media here to (say), ‘Come on, come next Tuesday to help us.”

AGUERO CHASING THE RECORD

The main focus will be on securing a victory that would move City clear at the top of the group, but the side story involving Aguero could command the headlines.

The prolific Argentinian scored his 176th City goal in Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Palace to move within one of equalling the club’s all-time record.

That record was set by 1930s hero Eric Brook and has stood since league football shut down for the Second World War.

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Borussia Dortmund’s magical Christian Pulisic represents the American idol soccer is crying out for

James Piercy 26/09/2017
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Christian Pulisic.

You would imagine being a soccer fan in the United States is a labour of love. Largely ignored by the mainstream sports media, to truly love the game ahead of American football, basketball or baseball must invite ridicule.

Relatively-speaking, a niche breed, denied the ability to engage in proper sports chat beyond the internet, as NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college sports dominate the discourse. After all, why would you need to watch anything else? The USA is a country where the very best athletes in the world take to courts, fields and rinks each week.

And while soccer fans are a proud bunch who look after their own, for all the dedication afforded to the sport, a longing gaze must still be fixed on Europe and South America and the individuals who emerge and become superstars.

That’s not to say the country hasn’t produced some fine players, and their consistency in World Cups this century is testament to that, but they have all, to varying degrees, been of a certain ilk – honest, hard-working, dedicated.

Strong values in a team-mate but none that alone can make up a truly unique individual talent or a superstar they can call their own, alongside Tom Brady, LeBron James or Aaron Judge.

Christian Pulisic is different. Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz has only been working with the teenager for four months, yet believes he deserves to win FIFA’s Golden Boy award, ahead of Kylian Mbappe and former team-mate Ousmane Dembele. There is significant bias, but the Dutchman, in speaking about his prodigy, reveals a continual theme: “He has great mentality, which is important.”

As Pennsylvania Classics director, the youth academy where Pulisic spent his formative years, told Sports Illustrated last year: “The thing that we always felt was going to help him through was he seemed to be very grounded and focused about his training and his goals.”

All this fits nicely into the lineage of Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Eric Wynalda: diligent and dedicated professionals; talented to varying degrees but players whose attitude and teamwork ultimately rise above everything else.

Pulisic is all of this… and a whole lot more. He is industrious, combative and committed, whether in possession or when losing the ball, but even at his age – having turned 19 Sunday – there is some serious stardust in those boots.

In Saturday’s 6-1 hammering of Borussia Monchengladbach he collected the ball just inside the opposition half and glided past (or maybe more accurately, through) six players with a combination of blistering acceleration and, dare you say, Lionel Messi-like control; shifting from right foot to left foot, and back again.

The concept of wingers was thought to be a dying art at the turn of the decade. Dribbling, too, a fading concept in such a rigid tactical landscape, but whether it be FIFA’s commitment to altering laws on what constitutes a fair tackle, improvements in the quality of pitches or the influence of Messi and Ronaldo, Pulisic is among a few unique talents carrying the torch.

As expected with his style of play, age and lack of experience, there is significant risk with the reward.

Pulisic is fourth across Europe’s top-five leagues, in terms of attempted dribbles, with 33 but also co-leads the standings across the continent with failed attempts (18).

Refinement is obviously and inevitably required, but that will come over time from within, as he is a unique talent who already, between the ages of 17-18, has matured at an impressive rate.

Dembele’s departure to Barcelona has quickened his full integration into the first team – he has started five of six Bundesliga games, played 90 minutes against Tottenham and is a guaranteed starter for BVB’s match tonight against Real Madrid – but evidence suggests, Michael Zorc could have another protracted transfer battle on his hands next summer, especially if he has a fruitful World Cup.

Because Pulisic presents more than just an excellent footballer. A world-class individual from the planet’s biggest sporting nation, in the world’s most-popular sport equals serious bang for your buck.

Unsurprisingly, Nike have him tied down to an endorsement deal until 2022. But for any club looking to crack the emerging American market – and factor in the 2026 World Cup potentially being held in the USA, Canada and Mexico – Pulisic is the golden ticket.

All this is a lot to take for a teenager still in the very early years of his career but he seems to be taking it in his (exceptionally fast) stride.

If he hasn’t already, Pulisic will come to represent a numbers of things for Stateside soccer fans – hope, excitement, pride. But most of all, a justification for their peculiar passion – a superstar they can call their own.

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Kyle Walker sends warning to Manchester City's rivals

Andy Hampson 26/09/2017
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Kyle Walker says few teams will be able to stop Manchester City if they continue to get it right.

Pep Guardiola’s side have hit a rich vein of form, scoring at least four goals in four of their last five outings.

That has taken them to the top of the Premier League and got them off to a flying start in the Champions League.

Their European challenge continues tonight as they host Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk in their second Group F fixture.

Right-back Walker, who has made an impressive start at his new club since his summer move from Tottenham, said: “It is just about consistency.

“If we keep playing at the level we are playing at I don’t think we will come across many opponents that will cause us many problems with the strike force we’ve got and, more importantly for me, (if we are) keeping clean sheets.

“I think it will be tough and it’s a lot of work to keep doing and listening to the gaffer, his tactics, but hopefully that will see us across the line.”

Striker Sergio Aguero, who has scored six in six appearances this season, will go into the game at the Etihad Stadium needing just one more goal to equal Eric Brook’s club record of 177.

Walker saw the Argentinian score several against him while playing for Spurs and he is relieved to be on the same side now.

He said: To play against he is a nightmare. Facing him for numerous seasons, he always seemed to score against us. It was frustrating.

“Having him on the same team now is a big bonus. He is a quality player.”

While Walker has caught the eye for his charges down the right flank, fellow new signing Benjamin Mendy has done similar things on the left. The pair also seem to have struck up a good relationship off the field and have regularly teased each other on social media, highlighting each other’s mistakes.

Walker said: “If you know me relatively well, you know I do like a bit of banter – but he started it! He came for me first.

“As soon as he got the nutmeg in Holland, I had to jump back on it. But he is just relentless. He keeps coming with things.”

City face a Shakhtar side who opened their Group F campaign with an impressive win over the much-fancied Serie A leaders Napoli. Their form in the early part of the season has also been strong, as they have lost just once in 11 games.

City boss Guardiola said: “They beat Napoli – one of the three or four or five best teams, playing football, in the world.

“People say, ‘Napoli, it’s not Milan or Juventus’ and, ‘Shakhtar, it’s Ukraine’, but this group is tricky.”

Mendy faces a fitness test on a knee injury while captain Vincent Kompany is still out with a calf problem.

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