The Etihad Stadium, Manchester
27th November, 2013; 19:45 BST
Manchester City host Viktoria Plzeň in their next Champions League group stage fixture at the Etihad Stadium. The reverse fixture ended in a comfortable 0-3 win for the away side as Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero got on the score-sheet.
Manchester City have already qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition, while Viktoria Plzeň are out of contention after losing all four of their fixtures, but the Czech side can still qualify for the Europa League as they look to gazump CSKA Moscow for the third spot in the table.
Team news and tactics
City made a slow start to their Premier League campaign under their new manager Manuel Pellegrini. They are currently fourth in the points table – six points behind league leaders Arsenal. Manchester City have been in blistering form at home, winning eight of their nine fixtures at the Etihad Stadium in all competitions (their only defeat came against Bayern Munich), but it the contrasting away form which has been their biggest concern – they have won only four of their nine away fixtures this season. They are coming into this match on the back of a fantastic result against Tottenham at home. Manchester City thrashed Spurs 6-0 as Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas scored a brace each. That result has now taken Manchester City’s goal tally to 26 in six home games in the league.
Manchester City have failed to shine in Europe in the past two seasons, but this time the English club has secured their qualification to the next round with two games to spare. The Citizens are second in the points table of Group D, having won three of their opening four matches. It seems unlikely that they will be able to win the group ahead of Bayern Munich, but a win in this game will maintain their hope of doing so. Manchester City confirmed their place in the next round with a 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow in their last European fixture as Sergio Aguero, who has been in scintillating form this season, scored a memorable hat-trick.
Manuel Pellegrini has a long injury list to deal with at the moment. Stevan Jovetic, Matija Nastasic, David Silva and Jack Rodwell are all out of contention for this game, while Aleksandar Kolarov is yet to recover from his illness. The good news for Pellegrini is that Vincent Kompany has returned to training, but won’t be available for first team action before next week. His return will provide a huge boost to the side who have been defensively vulnerable on the roads in his absence.
Pellegrini is expected to make as many as seven changes to the side he fielded against Tottenham this weekend. Edin Dezko and John Guidetti will lead the line upfront in place of Aguero and Negredo, who have been in fine form. James Milner will start on the left, while Javi Garcia replaces Fernandinho at the center of the park. Joleon Lescott, who came on as a substitute against Spurs, will partner Demichelis at the center of the defence, while Micah Richards replaces Pablo Zabaleta. The story is the return of Joe Hart in goal as Pellegrini provides the England international, who was dropped from the side recently, to earn back his place in the first team.
Expected starting line-up: Hart (GK); Richards, Demichelis, Lescott, Clichy; Navas, Garcia, Toure, Milner; Dzeko, Guidetti
Viktoria Plzeň have made a flying start to their domestic campaign and are currently second in the Gambrinus League table – five points behind the undefeated Sparta Prague. Pavel Vrba’s side have lost just one game in the league so far, and are yet to be defeat at the Doosan Arena. After going through a run of only one win in five matches in all competitions, Plzeň bounced back with three consecutive victories and are one good run of form recently. They are coming into this game on the back of a comfortable 1-3 win over Brno in the league as Stanislav Tecl scored a wonderful brace for the away side.
Viktoria Plzeň have had a forgettable European campaign so far. They were expected to be the whipping boys of this group, but four defeats in four fixtures doesn’t make a pleasant reading for Pavel Vrba. They have scored only two goals in the Champions League so far, both of them came against CSKA Moscow, and have conceded 12 at the other end. A place in the Europa league is still up for grabs and a lot will rest on their home fixture against CSKA Moscow in the last game of this group stage. Viktoria Plzeň will perhaps be encouraged by the fact that they were able to contain Bayern Munich to just one goal in their last game.
Pavel Vrba doesn’t have any major injury concerns ahead of this fixture. He is expected to make only one change to the side he fielded against Brno in the weekend. Michal Duris will replace David Limbersky on the left wing, while Stanislav Teci, who scored a brace against Brno, will retain his place in the side ahead of Marek Bakos.
Expected starting line-up: Kozacik (GK); Hubnik, Prochazka, Cisovsky, Rajtoral; Horvath, Horava; Petrzela, Kolar,Duris; Tecl
Players to watch-out for: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City); Milan Petrzela (Viktoria Plzeň)
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Viktoria Plzeň