Etihad Stadium, Manchester
1st October, 1945 BST
Manchester City welcome the champions of Europe Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday as they look to build on their victory over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League group stage. The biggest teams of Group D clash on the back of contrasting performances in their domestic leagues at the weekend with City having lost their game to Aston Villa at Villa Park and Bayern Munich having won theirs against Wolfsburg. In fact Bayern have won all of their last five matches. The last time they travelled to City was in the Champions League in 2011 when they lost 0-2 in a game of little consequence, having qualified already for the knockout stages. City would like a repeat of that scoreline which would help them grab the advantage in Group D.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Manuel Pellegrini will be renewing hostilities with Pep Guardiola, who he has never beaten as manager of Villarreal, Malaga or Real Madrid during Guardiola’s time as manager of Barcelona. The two certainly know each other well and Pellegrini will be hoping his players have the quality to make that elusive win over Guardiola possible. The Citizens would be hoping for a strong performance from their team in Europe after two seasons of failure and a victory against the defending champions would certainly get belief back in the dressing room.
If City are to win however, they would have to perform miles better than their abject defensive display against Aston Villa over the weekend, when they threw a first half lead away to lose 2-3, despite dominating the match for long periods. City’s defensive frailties have been exposed in the past and Bayern’s attack would look to puncture a hole in City’s defensive wall again. City would look to welcome back David Silva from injury. The Spaniard has the ability to unlock the tightest of defenses and if available, Pellegrini would look to turn to him at some point during the game to help break Bayern’s stubborn defence. City would also hope Sergio Aguero will make himself available for the big encounter on Wednesday. Having been sidelined against Villa, it looks like Aguero will be available for Bayern. Undoubtedly City’s best forward at the moment, Aguero has the ability to score goals from half chances and Pellegrini would want his main man in City’s biggest game in Europe so far.
Expected starting Line up: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Jesus Navas, David Silva, Yaya Youre, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko
Bayern have fond memories of their last visit to England when they beat Borussia Dortmund to claim the Champions League trophy at the Wembley in May. Even their last game against English opposition in England ended in a 3-1 win over Arsenal. Bayern must be fairly confident after winning all but one of their Bundesliga games this season, which sees them level on points to Dortmund in the Bundesliga table, second only on goal difference.
Pep Guardiola has enjoyed good results against his counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, having defeated him on several occasions from their time as La Liga managers. Guardiola can hope changing of leagues doesn’t change his luck as he travels to the Etihad stadium on the back of a 1-0 win over Wolfsburg. Bayern, like City, also had a good start to their Champions League group stage having beaten CSKA Moscow.
The German giants now travel to England without Spaniards Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, whose defensive abilities will be missed. They are also without defender Holger Badstuber, though summer signing Mario Gotze should be fit to travel to Manchester. Bayern Munich would look to grab the upper hand in Group D, where City and Bayern look favourites to qualify. It is the top spot in the group that is up for grabs. The Germans would not want to break their winning habit and would use their strong counter attacking style to break City’s defense which has been seen to be less than impregnable in the Premier League in the recent past. Manuel Pellegrini has not found defensive solidity forthcoming from his team and Guardiola’s men would look to exploit this weakness with Ribery and Robben looking for a ‘Robb-ery’ on the break as City look to be the first team since AC Milan in 1990 to successfully defend their Champions League crown.
Expected starting Line up: Neuer; Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Rafinha; Lahm; Ribery, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Robben; Mandzukic
Player to watch out for
The key man for City would be skipper Vincent Kompany. City look a different team when their captain is available. The defence is more organized and more difficult to penetrate. Kompany takes onus on himself to guard the City goal with all his might as was evident in his performance against Manchester United in the derby a couple of weeks ago. Kompany was the standout performer in City’s defence, hooking balls away, outmuscling opposing forwards and making crucial interceptions. There was even an instance when he won the ball in his own box, made a pass and darted the entire length of the pitch to United’s goal in the build-up to Samir Nasri’s goal. If Kompany is in inspired form against Bayern, City can hope for a shutout against the Bavarians on Wednesday.
Man City 1-1 Bayern Munich