November 25, 19:45 BST
The Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Come Tuesday night, The Etihad stadium in Manchester will play host to a mouthwatering Champions League Group E encounter between reigning EPL champions Manchester City and Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. The hosts desperately need a win to have any chance of qualifying for the second round, whereas the visitors are already through to the next round as the group winners.
Manchester City have had a wretched time in the Champions League this time around as well, picking up just two points in their four matches so far – draws against Roma and CSKA Moscow. With second place still up for grabs, and Roma and CSKA Moscow squaring off in the other Group E match, it is imperative City try to pick up at least a point from the match against Bayern Munich.
Team News and Tactics
To make matters worse for Pellegrini’s side, midfielders Yaya Toure and Fernandinho are both suspended, courtesy the bookings the duo picked up in the 2-1 loss at CSKA Moscow. David Silva is continuing his return from injury, but is a doubt for the match along with Edin Dzeko, Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov.
Sergio Aguero will be expected to lead from the front and his performance on the day will go a long way in determining City’s fate in the Champions League. The likes of James Milner, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas will also be in line for starts owing to City’s injury and suspension woes.
Considering that they are playing against a team that hogs the ball, City will no doubt be looking to play on the break. Quick, direct football will be the order of the day for Pellegrini’s men, but they will have to be wary of Bayern’s constant pressing and interchanging.
Probable line-up: Hart (GK), Zabaleta, Mangala, Demichelis, Clichy, Nasri, Fernando, Milner, Navas, Jovetic, Aguero
David Alaba joins the lengthy injury list at the Allianz Arena, along with captain Philipp Lahm. Badstuber, Alcantara, Martinez and Pepe Reina remain the long-term casualties.
Guardiola’s men go into the match on the back of a convincing 4-0 win against 5th-placed side Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. With qualification to the knockout stages already guaranteed, Guardiola will be hoping to rest key players and avoid further injuries to an already injury-ravaged squad.
German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger could return to the side for his first Champions League match this season after a long injury layoff. The likes of Shaqiri and Dante could get some much-needed game time.
Against Hoffenheim, Guardiola fielded an ultra-attacking line-up featuring two strikers, three attacking midfielders and just one holding midfielder in Xabi Alonso. It will be interesting to see how Guardiola approaches this match, considering it’s a dead-rubber for his side.
Probable line-up: Neuer (GK), Rafinha, Dante, Boateng, Bernat, Alonso, Shaqiri, Ribery, Rode, Lewandowski, Muller
Bayern are already assured of first place in the group. City will be eliminated if they lose while a draw will keep their hopes alive only if there is also a draw between PFC CSKA Mosvka and AS Roma in the group’s other game
City risk elimination at the group stage for the third time in four attempts. They reached the last 16 last term but finished third in their group in 2011/12 and fourth in 2012/13, when they failed to win a game.
Agüero has scored 11 goals in his last 11 outings for City. On 8 November his double earned the Citizens, who trailed twice, a 2-2 draw at Queens Park Rangers FC.
Bayern are 18 matches unbeaten since losing 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup on 13 August.
Bayern have gone 329 minutes without conceding a goal.
A slow-burning first half, followed by a fast-paced second half. It is up to City to force a result, and Bayern could pick them off on the counter-attack if the Blues through everything forward in the search for a win. A scoring draw seems like the best bet, considering City will be without their most influential players.
Predicted Score:Manchester City 2-2 Bayern Munich