Manchester City will host defending champions Bayern Munich in a tasty encounter at the Etihad Stadium; while CSKA Moscow take on Viktoria Plzen at ‘home’. TheHardTackle previews Group D.
CSKA Moscow v/s Viktoria Plzeň
Petrovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg
Viktoria Plzen are lucky to be having to make a trip to Russia in the beginning of October rather than December – the ‘not so cold’ weather at this time of the year helps nullify some of the advantage held by Eastern European sides in this competition. Marek Bakos says that his team are out to represent Czech football and help improve their UEFA coefficient, but knows that his side have the chance to take advantage of a stuttering CSKA Moscow. The Russian side are without a win in 3 games, and will not be playing this game at home due to the poor state of the pitch. The game will be held at the Petrovsky Stadium in St Petersburg instead.
Right-back Radim Reznik returned from injury on Friday and could feature against CSKA but left-back David Limbersky is a doubtful starter due to a thigh strain. For the ‘home’ side, except for hamstring injuries to Alan Dzagoev and Seydou Doumbia, there are no significant injury worries.
Prediction: CSKA Moscow 1-0 Viktoria Plzen
Players to watch out for: Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow)
Manchester City v/s Bayern Munich
Etihad Stadium, Manchester
The defending champions made a perfect start to their title defence, winning 3-0 at home against CSKA Moscow, while Manchester City won by the same margin at Viktoria Plzen. Both teams are currently setting themselves up in response to a change in regime. Pep Guardiola looks to blend in his ideal way of playing the game as he negotiates the early stages of the season. Die Roten have experimented with a variety of formations, and it looks like Philip Lahm will not be bombarding the right flank on Thursday – he could be deployed as the sole defensive midfielder instead.
Manchester City have a golden opportunity to qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time. Manuel Pellegrini has proved his ability to guide less fancied teams to the latter stages of the competition, and is on track to do the same at City. The Citizens got the job done at Plzen on the opening day of the tournament, and a positive result at home to Bayern will be a strong enough statement of improvement in Europe. The new manager’s body of work has not gone unnoticed, not least by Pep Guardiola.
The presence of captain Vincent Kompany makes a huge difference to the squad; but going by their freakish defeat at Aston Villa, one never knows which version of Manchester City will turn up. He will be a key player on Wednesday. This game will be a tasty one.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Bayern Munich
Players to watch out for: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)