Allianz Arena, Munich
December 10, 2013; 19:45 BST
Bayern Munich host Manchester City in their last group stage fixture tonight at the Allianz Arena. The reverse fixture ended in a 1-3 win for the reigning European champions with Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben scoring for the away side. It was a dominating performance from the German side and a footballing lesson was handed out to Manchester City on the night. City will certainly hope for an improved performance this time around.
Both the teams have already qualified for the knockout stages and mathematically Manchester City still have a chance of winning the group if they manage a big win at the Allianz Arena, which looks highly unlikely. Both managers are likely to rotate their squad for this game, specially Manchester City, who face Arsenal in important Premier League fixture at the weekend.
Team news and tactics
Bayern Munich have started from where they left off last season and have dominated the Bundesliga so far under their new manager Pep Guardiola. Die Roten are currently at the top of the points table with a four point advantage over second placed Bayer Leverkusen. They are yet to face defeat in the league this season and extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 40 matches with a 0-7 thrashing of Werder Bremen at the weekend. It looks unlikely that any team in Germany would be able to stop this Bayern juggernaut this season, which last faced a defeat in a competitive fixture back in July when Borussia Dortmund beat them in the Super Cup.
The German side have also dominated in Europe so far and have won all of their five group stage fixtures this season. With their 1-3 victory over CSKA Moscow in their last European fixture, Pep Guardiola’s men set a new Champions League record of 10 consecutive wins in this competition, stretching back to last season. Arjen Robben, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller scored for the away side on the night after Keisuke Honda pulled one back for CSKA.
Pep Guardiola does have a lot of injury concerns ahead of this fixture. Holger Badstuber, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben, Claudio Pizzaro and Xherdan Shaqiri are all out of contention for this game with injuries. Guardiola, whose options are bit limited due to injuries, will make two changes to the side he fielded against Werder Bremen at the weekend. Dante, who started on the bench in the last game, should replace Daniel van Buyten at the back, while Philip Lahm should resume his role as the holding midfielder. The German international will replace Mario Mandzukic in the side, which means Mario Gotze will play upfront in the false nine role.
Kroos and Thiago will support him in attack, with Ribery and Muller on the wings. It is a strong Bayern side, despite the fact that they will be missing a lot of key players. They will once again press from the front and look to win back the ball high up on the pitch. Guardiola has used the 4-1-4-1 formation this season and has used Lahm in the midfield.
Expected starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Neuer (GK); Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Lahm; Muller, Thiago, Kroos, Ribery; Gotze
Manchester City made a relatively slow start to their Premier League campaign with three wins in their opening six matches under their new manager Manuel Pellegrini. But the Citizens have picked up their pace and are still considered as the favourites to win the league in many quarters.They are currently fourth in the league table – six points behind league leaders Arsenal, whom they will face in their next game. Worryingly for Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City’s record while playing away from home this season has been disappointing and they have won only two of their eight league matches on the road so far. Man City are coming into this game on the back of 1-1 draw against Southampton as Sergio Aguero’s opener was cancelled out by Pablo Osvaldo’s wonder goal.
But Manuel Pellegrini has already done what Roberto Mancini couldn’t achieve – qualification into the knock-out phase of the tournament. Except for the disappointing loss against Bayern at home, Man City have been brilliant in their other four matches so far. They have scored nine goals in their last two Champions League fixture and managed a 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzen in their last European fixture.
Manuel Pellegrini will be without Gael Clichy, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic for this fixture, who haven’t travelled with the squad due to fitness concerns. The big blow for Manchester City though, is the absence of Yaya Toure, who is suspended after picking up his third yellow card of the tournament in the match against Viktoria Plzen. But on hindsight he couldn’t have chosen a better match to miss, as City have already secured their qualification and the midfielder will also be fresh for the clash against Arsenal.
Manuel Pellegrini is expected to make five changes to the side he fielded against Southampton at the weekend. Joe Hart will return to the starting line-up in place of Pantilimon, while Micah Richards will replace Pablo Zabaleta at the right back. The suspended Yaya Toure will be replaced by Javi Garcia, while Jesus Navas will start on the right. James Milner, who also started against Southampton, will move to the left as Nasri drops back to the bench. Negredo will be rested for this game as Pellegrini provides Dzeko with another opportunity to shine at the top.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart (GK); Richards, Demichelis, Kompany, Kolarov; Navas, Garcia, Fernandinho, Milner; Dzeko, Aguero
Players to watch-out for: Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich); Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Manchester City